Skyline International condemns the closure of the headquarters of Al-Jazeera Channel by the Sudanese Transitional Military Council in the capital city of Khartoum.
Al-Jazeera network reported that the Sudanese security services informed the director of its’ office in Khartoum of the decision of the Transitional Military Council to close the office while also holding both devices and material, to be handed over to the authorities.
The decision included the withdrawal of work permits for Al-Jazeera Channel’s correspondents and staff in Sudan, but the head of Al-Jazeera office in Khartoum said no written decision had been handed down by the military council.
Skyline International states that the decision violates freedom of expression and press freedoms guaranteed by various international laws and treaties binding on Sudan, warning that it could be followed by decisions to prosecute channel staff.
It points out that this decision comes at a difficult time experienced by Sudan, after the fall of the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir and the ongoing demonstrations against the symbols of his regime demanding full freedom and civil rule.
Skyline notes that this period needs to allow for the freedom of expression and press, to play their full role in the important stage of the country’s history.
Skyline International affirms that the Transitional Military Council is required to prove its’ good intentions through the implementation of the law and not to violate it, especially with regard to freedom of press work, which has been subjected to prosecution and violation with great suspicion over the past years.
It calls on the Sudanese authorities to cancel their decision and to allow a wider scope for the press in order to convey the reality on the Sudanese street. It also calls for reviewing all the laws that constitute an entrance to prosecute journalists and adapting them to international standards.
The closure of Al Jazeera by the Sudanese authorities violates Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that “… everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds regardless of frontiers, written or printed form, in the form of art or by any other means of his choice. ” Skyline says.