STOCKHOLM – Skyline International calls on the Sudanese government and the transitional council to provide more space of expression for journalism in Sudan, after decades of repression and restraint.
At the beginning of October, many journalists were beaten and abused by security agents at the Khartoum International Airport while covering the arrival of the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdouk after visiting France.
In late September, Al-Hurra TV crew in Khartoum were harassed by security officials who intercepted the channel’s crew while documenting scenes regarding the fuel crisis, forcing photographers to delete the photos after detaining them for some time.
During his press conference at the airport, the Sudanese prime minister apologized to the journalists who have been assaulted. “We apologize in the strongest terms for what happened at the beginning of the era of restoring democracy.” Minister of Information, Faisal Mohammed Saleh, also apologized to Al-Hurra for the incident.
Sudan Needs Radical Change
“These events confirm that the transitional government must work urgently to allow space for media freedoms by radically changing the state’s systems and institutions, especially security and military,” says Dr. Sherine Awad, head of Skyline International.
Dr. Awad appreciates the apology of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Information for the two incidents.
Sudan’s Transitional Military Council announced in April that it would lift all censorship of newspapers and other media platforms since the time of former President Omar al-Bashir; while journalists are looking for a better position under the interim agreement between the junta and the opposition.
Many Sudanese journalists believe that despite the end of the former president’s rule months ago, the effects of three decades of confiscation of freedoms and repression of the press still exist.
On 25 September, the Sudanese Prime Minister signed his country’s accession to the Convention on the International pledge to defend freedom of the mediia.
The pledge signed by Sudan states that “media freedom is an integral part of the fundamentals of worldwide security and prosperity. People need free media that provides them with accurate information and useful analysis if we want governments to be held accountable. ”
It also states that “our government is committed to working together to protect media freedom” and “to support international initiatives to ensure freedom of the media”.
On Saturday, 12 October, a conference of Sudanese journalists was held to establish a statute for the Journalists Syndicate, after all unions controlled by the former president’s party were dissolved.
Skyline International stresses the importance of having an association for all Sudanese journalists, regardless of their affiliation, based on respecting their rights and defending them before the authorities, without restriction or party or official control.
It also calls on the Council of Ministers to put new rules in dealing with media, including an important awareness-raising role for the various security elements and individuals working in state agencies, who are the tool that carries out repression and harassment.
“The transitional government in Sudan must provide an appropriate and encouraging environment for journalists to work, both local and international”, adds Dr Sherine Awad.