The Acting Editor of Khartoum Monitor, William Ezekiel has informed SOAT that the paper will submit an application to the High Court requesting a revision of the decision. In the meantime, the newspaper will remain suspended subject to a change in the High Court decision.
The Khartoum Monitor licence to print was first withdrawn on 12 July 2003 following a decision by the Khartoum North Panel Court after it published an interview with Santino Deng, the ex-Minister for Animal Resources in 2001. In the interview, Mr. Santino who has since passed away accused the government of practising a form of slavery. The paper appealed against the decision, the grounds for suspension of the newspaper was rejected and the Appeal Courts reinstated the paper’s licence. The case was then taken before the High Court, without the knowledge of the paper's lawyers.
Since 2003, journalists’ writing for the Khartoum Monitor has been subjected to systematic and ongoing intimidation and arrests. In March 2003, Edward Ladu Terso, a journalist working with Khartoum Monitor, was detained on 11 March 2003 and sent to Kober Prison without charge. He was conditionally released on 29 March 2003 under the order that he had to stop criticizing the government. Edward was interrogated few days earlier following an article he wrote about the history of Islam in Sudan. In May 2003, Nhial Bol, the managing editor of Khartoum Monitor, was forced to flee Sudan to Kenya after he was subjected to constant arrests and detentions. He also had an assassination attempt on his life.
SOAT deplores the suspension of the paper and considers the action of the National Press and Publications Council and the judiciary as an attempt to prevent the publication of information regarding the violent clashes between protesters and security forces that seized the Soba Aradi area in Khartoum on 18 May 2005, resulting in the death of several people including fourteen police officers and six civilians. Following the clashes, the government deployed extra police, military and security personnel on the streets of Soba, (who subjected persons residing in the Soba Aradi Area to) initiating a campaign of mass arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detentions. Over 200 people have been arrested including women and children. The whereabouts of many of the detainees remain unknown to their families.
The 21 May 2005 edition of the (newspaper) Khartoum Monitor was prevented from being issued following a visit from (the) Security officers the previous evening on 20 May 2005. The officers ordered the Acting Chief Editor, William Ezekiel, to remove (its) the editorial coverage of a Reuters report on the violent clashes (which resulted in the death of several people including 14 police officers and six civilians at) in the Soba Aradi IDP area south of Khartoum on 18 May. The editors refused to withdraw the story as the paper would have had to be printed blank and would have resulted in the loss (lose) of six million Sudanese pounds. At 3am on 21 May, the security officers entered the printing press and ordered the printing of the newspaper to stop.
SOAT is concerned by the suspension of the Khartoum Monitor and the continuing restrictions on freedom of expression, and urges the government of Sudan, the Judiciary and National Press and Publications Council:
i. to comply with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the government is an obligated State Party;
ii. end restrictions on freedom of the press, allow full and open reporting of, and comment upon the current state of affairs in Sudan.
iii. Cease the suspensions and imposition of pre-printing and post-printing censorship on newspapers, and allow full freedom of expression in accordance with international human rights standards.
iv. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights laws and standards.
The above recommendations should be sent in appeals to the following
His Excellency Lieutenant General Omar Hassan al-Bashir
President of the Republic of Sudan
President' s Palace
PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 783223
Mr. Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin
Minister of Justice and Attorney General
Ministry of Justice
Fax: + 249 183 788941
Prof. Ali Mohamed Ali Shommou
The National Press and Publications Council
P O Box 11111, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 77 19 25
Dr. Abdelmuneim Osman Mohamed Taha
Advisory Council for Human Rights
PO Box 302
Fax: + 249 183 770883
His Excellency Ambassador Mr. Ibrahim Mirghani Ibrahim,
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sudan to the United Nations in Geneva,
PO Box 335,
Fax: +4122 731 26 56,
E-mail: [email protected]
SOAT is international human rights organisation established in the UK in 1993. If you have any questions about this or any other SOAT information, please contact us:
Kilburn Park Road
London NW6 5LF, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7625 8055
Fax: +44 (0)20 7372 2656
E-mail: [email protected]