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Sudan17 January 2002

A journalist arrested for writing an article about slavery

In a letter to Minister of the Interior, Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF - Reporters Without Borders) protested against the arrest of Nhial Bol, managing editor of the Khartoum Monitor, and against a fine imposed on the only English-language daily in the country. Robert Ménard, RSF general secretary, asked the minister to release the journalist. "Levying an exorbitant fine on the newspaper demonstrates that the judiciary authorities are determined to close it down", he added. The organisation noted that the Khartoum Monitor had been censored several times during 2001 and Alfred Taban, a member of the newspaper’s board and correspondent for BBC and Reuters had been arrested three times.

According to the information collected by RSF, Nhial Bol, managing editor of the Khartoum Monitor, was fined five millions pounds (454 euros) on 16 January for alleging that the government allowed ethnic Arabs to use state-owned railways to transport slaves abducted from the Bahr al-Ghazal area of southern Sudan. The daily has also been fined 15 million pounds (1350 euros). Nhial Bol is being held the day before at Omdurman prison to serve a six-month sentence if the fine goes unpaid The complaint against him was made by the governmental Presidential Peace Advisory office which also charged that the journalist discussed abductions for slavery with a visiting delegation from the United States. The journalist and the newspaper are expected to appeal the sentences. Alfred Taban believes the authorities may seize the newspaper’s assests (two computers and the office furniture).

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