Sudanese President releases all detained journalists

Monday, August 29, 2011

File:L-Omar al-Bashir-Alfashir.jpg

File photo of President Omar al-Bashir.
Image: Prince jasim ali.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced the release of all journalists detained in the country's jails in an address to a gathering of journalists in the capital of Khartoum, on Saturday. "I declare amnesty for all the journalists detained by the security authorities and their release," said Al-Bashir.

This came in the same month as the release of Abu Zar Al-Amin, deputy editor-in-chief of pro-opposition paper Ra'y Al-Sha'b. Al-Almin had served a prison term of nearly two years after he violating press restrictions and reporting on alleged co-operation between Sudan and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The release and amnesty follows a series of fresh violations of 'press freedoms', which resulted in the suspension of independent newspapers such as Al-Jaridah and Al-Ahdath on August 20 and 21. According to Mozdalifa Mohamed Osman, Al-Ahdath's newsroom chief, the suspension caused financial losses of US$10,000.

No reasons were given for the suspension of the newspapers. However, the editor-in-chief of AlJaridah, Saad Al-Din Ibrahim revealed that his paper was suspended because it did not allow the security services to interfere in its editorial and recruitment policies; sources believe the Al-Ahdath suspension was due to the publication of information on a planned meeting between President Al-Bashir and the leader of armed opposition group Sudan People's Liberation Movement (northern sector) Malik Aggar.

According to press-freedom watchdog the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Sudanese government aggressively attacks journalists through "contrived legal proceedings, politicized criminal charges, and confiscations". Amnesty International believes Sudanese press freedom is "openly violated".

Press freedoms may deteriorate with the National Congress Party contemplating further restrictions, including the possibility of pre-publication censorship.