Sunday, March 4, 2012

Concern as Sudan Parliament debates espionage laws

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An attempt to introduce tougher espionage law in Sudan is causing jitters among activists, opposition politicians and journalists.

The law, currently before parliament, is seen as an attempt to further muzzle the freedom of the press in a country whose freedom rakings are already bad.

"Before, the case was against me and the security apparatus, now the public opinion will be involved and it will be galvanised against the so-called 'spies', " said a veteran journalist and activist who wished to remain unnamed.

A few months ago, Mr Ahmed Ibrahim Al Taher, the head of the Parliament, stated that there were many spies in the country, especially in the media sector. Since then, some MPs, encouraged by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), have pushed for a tougher espionage law.

The political section of Kober prison, Sudan's largest and most high-security prison, is reported by former detainees to be full of political inmates, especially opposition party members, students and youth activists.

Experts are warning that journalists and activists would face bigger risk if the law was passed.

The security organ

However, government officials have stated that the law was necessary because of the current situation to protect the country from activities in neighbouring states

Mr Abdelmoniem Mohamed, a lawyer actively involved with youth groups, said that the laws were born out of the regime's failure to solve the many economic, political and social problems arising in Sudan, especially since the Arab Spring waves in neighbouring countries.

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