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Journalists face increasing threat from Sudan

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A Sudanese government watchdog has reported on an increase in threatening behaviour journalists faced from Sudanese authorities in the latter part of 2016.

According to the Sudanese Journalists Network report on press freedom, 38 police seizures of newspapers were recorded and seven Sudanese journalists were arrested last year.

“Newspaper confiscation has been a common tactic used by authorities to cause huge financial loses for newspapers,” the report explains.

“This quarter a new trend by authorities was seen with newspapers being suspended for three days in a row instead of one day.”

Between October and December 2016, 11 print-runs for the newspaper Al-Jareeda were confiscated by authorities including five print-runs for the Al-Tayar newspaper and 4 print-runs for the newspaper Al-Watan.

The report goes on to explain the circumstances around arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of many Sudanese journalists. The case of Mohammad Al-Amin Abdulaziz, associate-editor of the newspaper Al-Jareeda, was highlighted.

“Eyewitnesses said he was beaten [by the police] and later arrested. No reasons were given for the arrest,” the report explains.

The ongoing trial of a journalist at Al-Midan, Mohamed Al-Fateh, was also raised by the report after he was arrested for publishing a story about corruption in national land sales. Newspapers that published information on the national discontent with inflation and price rise increases due to government cuts and subsidies were frequently threatened by security agents.

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir warned that he would stamp out any dissent and opposition of his regime in a nod to 2013 where demonstrators were targeted in a brutal crackdown.

In the 2015, copies of Al-Khartoum and Al-Sudani newspapers were confiscated following their reporting on water poisoning in the south of the country.

Sudan has continuously ranked low in freedoms permitted in the country. In Reporters Without Borders’ 2016 press freedom index, Sudan ranked 174 out of 178 countries listed on a scale of press freedoms.