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Sudan24 November 2003

Al-Ayam allowed to reappear

Prosecutor-general Emad Eddin Mahjub Mohamad cancelled on 22 November the suspension of the independent daily paper Al-Ayam, which had been closed on 16 November by the country’s anti-subversion prosecutor. Ruling on an appeal by the paper, he said the suspension had been ordered by unauthorised people, implying that the security services and their ally, the anti-subversion prosecutor, were acting illegally to maintain their power over the press, which was taken away from them by presidential decree in August.


New offensive against the independent press

One daily newspaper suspended, two journalists arrested, four summonsed

Reporters Without Borders has called for the immediate reappearance of the Arabic-language daily newspaper Al-Ayam, which was suspended on 16 November, and has condemned harassment of journalists by the security services.

One of Sudan’s leading dailies, Al-Ayam, which last month marked its 50th anniversary, has been suspended indefinitely on the order of the state prosecutor in charge of subversion crimes, Mohammed Farid Hassan, under Article 130 of the 1991 code of criminal procedure, paragraphs 1 and 3. The daily is accused of "threatening the security and stability" of the country.

"This latest repressive campaign inflicted on the Sudanese press is particularly disturbing, all the more so since the security forces use draconian laws to silence independent publications and to ruin them financially", said Robert Ménard, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders.

"One month ago Sudan’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva stated that there would be no further censorship or suspension of newspapers! As long as the existing draconian laws are not repealed and the security forces continue to crack down on the press, freedom of expression will remain under threat," he added.

Mahjoub Mohamed Salih, editor-in-chief of Al-Ayam and a pivotal figure in the independent press, told Reporters Without Borders, "This step clearly shows the determination to sink the newspaper financially, otherwise the management would have been informed before going to press, that is before two in the morning."

Mr. Salih was summonsed by the prosecutor’s office on the 18 November along with journalist Murtada Al-Ghali. On 11 November, the state prosecutor in charge of subversion crimes summonsed former Al-Ayam staffer Hayder Almukashi and Al-Ayam journalist Tag Alsir Mekki, without giving any official reason.

The authorities are obviously determined to gag any press that oversteps the official line on the peace agreement and particularly on events in South Sudan. Security forces arrested correspondents Gasim Tah, of Al Sahafa newspaper and Mouhanad Hussain of Akhbar Alyom at Niala on 15 November and released them the same day. The two journalists had been preparing a report on the torching by Arabic militia of two villages in South Darfour province.

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