Thursday, January 5, 2012

Published:Sudan shuts third newspaper in media crackdown

Sudanese security officials on Sunday evening confiscated Monday copies of Rai Al Shab,the third newspaper to be suspended in recent months by the government.

Rai Al Shab (The People's Opinion) is published by the Popular Congress Party (PCP), one of Sudan's largest opposition parties.

Known for its outspoken editorials and uncompromising journalism, the newspaper has been suspended many times in recent years, most recently from May 2010 to October 2011.

The pro-government Sudanese Media Center (SMC) quoted the head of the Media Department at the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) saying that the newspaper violated Sudan's "professional and ethical standards,"

The NISS has arrested many journalists last year including nine working with Radio Darfur. Also arrested was Abu Zar Al Ameen, the deputy editor-in-chief of Rai AlShab, who was released after more than a year in detention. The cases provoked an international outcry.

"The officers came to the our premises after 5 pm and they occupied the place; the editor-in-chief asked us to gather our personal belongings and leave," said Mustafa Ibrahim, one of the journalists working at Rai Al Shab.


Ibrahim added that at least 15,000 copies of the newspaper were confiscated on Sunday night. In recent months, copies of independent newspapers have been confiscated in an attempt to harm the newspapers that depend on sales since many opposition newspaper struggle to get advertisements.

Last week, a journalist working at the newspaper was called for interrogation at the National Press and Publications Council following two news pieces he published, in November and December respectively.

"I was surprised to find an arrest warrant waiting for me, I was interrogated before my release on bail," said Ahmed Haroun, who spoke to to Africa Review.

His case is ongoing; a trial hearing is yet to be set.

"During his Independence Day speech, the president spoke about freedoms such as press freedoms, then came the decision to suspend our publication," said Ibrahim who added that the decision will affect about 50 journalists, editors and staff members.

In July, six newspapers owned or co-owned by South Sudanese were suspended including the popular opposition newspaper, Ahjras Al Hurriya, and in September, Al Jareeda, a daily independent newspaper was suspended

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