Stop Crackdown of Journalists in Sudan

Chairwoman Hautala has observed with alarm the crackdown of journalists in Sudan[:] and in particular, received with concern the news that Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim, a Darfuri journalist working for the opposition newspaper Al Sahafa who was detained on 3 November, is being held in incommunicado detention.
However, editors of newspapers were forced to sign a so-called “code of journalistic honor”, which obliges them to practice self-censorship and refrain from publishing contents “likely to be censored under normal circumstances.”

The same day when Mr Ibrahim was arrested by the National Intelligence and Security Services, the offices of the newspaper Al-Sahafah were also raided by the National Services.

Jaafar Alsabki is, however, alarmingly only one of reported nine journalists targeted during recent weeks. There are also reports that the offices of the Human Rights and Democracy Network were raided 30 October and reportedly up to 13 Darfur activists including a journalist working with Holland based Radio Dabanga, were rounded up at that time. Radio Dabanga has since stated that one of its arrested journalist, Mr Abdelrahman Adam, is now charged with, among other counts, crimes against the state.

As there is scarce information on the names and whereabouts of the detained journalists, it is pressing that the authorities make this information available. It is furthermore imperative that all those detained must be promtly released or charged with internationally recognised criminal offence.

Reporters without Borders has expressed concern that these attacks seem to be targeted to those who report on the situation in Darfur. The fighting between the government forces and the rebel groups has intensified recently, while the President remains warranted by the International Criminal Court for grave human rights violations in Darfur. Pressure for the crackdown has perhaps increased also as the referendum on Southern Sudan, planned for January 2011, nears. As tension is feared to rise during the referendum time, it seems that the authorities are attempting to clamp down the free flow of information. “The world is watching Sudan closely and such abuse will not go unnoticed. All harrasment must seize immediately,” Chairwoman stressed.