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Sudan urged to grant access to Darfur and stop media repression

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May 17, 2007 (ISTANBUL) – A global network of media and editors urged Sudanese government to not obstruct the access of journalists to Sudan war-strife Darfur region and halt local media repression.

Meeting at its Annual General Assembly on 14 May 2007 in Istanbul, Turkey,
the IPI membership adopted a resolution calling on the government to grant
all journalists full access to the Darfur region and to halt its repression
of local media and journalists in Sudan over the last 14 months.

The security services have reviewed the contents of local newspapers before
publication; some newspapers have been banned. In the same period, local
and foreign journalists have been arrested and others intimidated or beaten
by the security services.

Last April, Sudanese authorities have expelled the BBC Correspondent from the country. The ministry of interior accused him of hostile reporting on Darfur, described as part of the western media propaganda against Khartoum.

En spite of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which grants freedom of expression in the country, the Sudanese press and journalists still subjected closure and detention. Yesterday the independent al-Sudani newspaper was suspended indefinitely because of an opinion paper denouncing Sudanese justice decision to halt a case of money laundering.

Also during last April clashes between Khartoum security forces and SLM-Minawi forces, a Sudanese journalist from the USAID funded Sudan Radio Service, covering the event, was tortured during a five-day detention. He was accused of being a foreign agent in Sudan promoting American ideology.

The bureaucratic barriers include the need for special permits from the
security services and a requirement to produce photocopies of travel
permits at Interior Ministry offices to travel in Sudan.

The government also has an informal "blacklist" of foreign journalists who
manage to evade these obstacles, and who produce critical reports.

Foreign journalists have sought to enter Sudan through Chad without visas.
As a consequence, foreign journalists have been arrested and charged with
espionage and false reporting.

The IPI membership reminds the Sudanese government that the media acts as
an early warning for famines, conflicts and other states of emergency. By
denying the foreign media access and repressing its media, the Sudanese
government is undermining this role, jeopardising its population.

The IPI membership calls on the Sudanese government to remove all
restrictions on foreign and local media and to allow journalists to report
freely without fear of harassment or intimidation.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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