Ameriques Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Sudan 21 July 2005

End of ban on Khartoum Monitor brings new hope for press

Reporters Without Borders today hailed President Al Bashir’s decision on 20 July to remove the ban on the Khartoum Monitor, an English-language daily, thereby implementing the lifting of censorship announced on 10 July.

"The end of censorship of this newspaper, which follows the lifting of the state of emergency, seems to herald a new era for the Sudanese press," the organisation said.

Khartoum Monitor editor William Ezechiel said the authorities’ consent to the newspaper’s reappearance would not be complete until he had appeared before the National Press Council.

The newspaper was banned on 12 June for publishing an interview in which a former government minister accused the government of practising forms of slavery.

13. 07. 05 Government announces end of censorship but Khartoum Monitor stays closed

Reporters Without Borders today hailed Omar Hassan Al Bashir’s announcement on 10 July of the lifting of the state of emergency but called for this to be followed quickly by real and significant improvements in press freedom.

"The repeal of the emergency laws in force since the 1989 coup must not be contradicted by government intolerance towards the independent news media," the organisation said, calling on the authorities to respect the undertakings they have given.

A new constitution signed on 9 July by President Al Bashir and the new vice-president, John Garang, the head of the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), is less restrictive than the previous one and does not subordinate press freedom to the imperatives of public order, security or morals.

The National Security Organ also confirmed the lifting of censorship on 10 July, saying the news media "must play their national role without there being any need to restrict them." The next day, the Al Ayam and Juba Post newspapers had enthusiastic front pages predicting a new era for the Sudanese press.

But many journalists are sceptical. The English-language Khartoum Monitor, an independent newspaper that was widely read in the former rebel south until banned by a high court judge on 12 June, has still not been able to reopen. The banning was the result of an interview it published in 2003 in which a former government minister, Santino Deng, who is now dead, accused the government of practising forms of slavery.

In the presence of several African presidents, European and American officials and of UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, President Al Bashir said on 11 July he was committed to the democratisation of Sudan, to the rule of law and to freedom, and that these would no longer be curtailed by emergency laws.

In this country
21 May - Sudan
Call for amendments to harsh new press law
2 March - Sudan
Detained journalist put on a flight to London
11 February - Sudan
“They asked me why I was asking about arms. Then they said they wanted me to leave the country”: the story of a Canadian-egyptian journalist expelled by the authorities
25 November - Sudan
For the good of the country, stop censoring
14 October - Sudan
South Sudan newspaper editor released

in the annual report
Sudan - Annual Report 2008
Sudan - Annual Report
Sudan - Annual report 2006

Africa press releases
3 June - Somalia
Alarm at TV station director’s abduction near Mogadishu
27 May - Gabon
Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health
26 May - Somalia
Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year

africa archives

18 March 2009 - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Bukavu, murder city”: investigation report into murders of journalists in the capital of Sud-Kivu
21 May 2008 - Eritrea
Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise
6 March 2008 - Kenya
"How far to go ?" Kenya’s media caught in the turmoil of a failed election

Sign the petitions
Sign the petition for the release of ten Eritrean journalists