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Why Would a Peace-Negotiating Government Abuse Freedom of the Press?

Press Release
SHRO-Cairo

Why Would a Peace-Negotiating Government Abuse Freedom of the Press?

December 3, 2003-12-03

The suspension of the Al-Ayyam independent daily "in cold blood": for no reason, without legal warrant, or even an administrative notice by the National Press Council (NPC) indicates clearly that the Sudan Government’s unabated abuse of the freedom of the press is not an administrative issue or an outcome of the NPC non-intelligent censorial activity.

While the Sudan Government executives and party leaders ascertain cautious commitment to the peace process, which is formally based on the realization of fundamental freedoms and human rights, the censor of the press systematically continues inside the country by firm government policy that practically curbs the peace process and the climates necessary for the next democratic transition.

This fact is further evidenced by elusive escalation of political repression: the more that the pressure for a comprehensive peace agreement mounts up higher demand for the exercise of public freedoms and human rights , the more NPC and the other state security agencies take harsher measures to eliminate the free press and the other civil necessities.

The racist harassment of the Khartoum Monitor, the sexist suspension of Al-Ray Al-Akhir, and the security-incited suspension of the al-Sahafa and Al-Ayyam among several other journals of sports, as well as student campus papers at the Juba University, Ahlia, Sudan University, University of Khartoum, and the Islamic University in Omdurman indicate that there is a consistent authority pattern of repressing the press, rather than "disputable administrative procedure," as the NPC Chair, Professor ’Ali Shumu and his council members routinely asserted whenever asked by appellant journalists to explain the "timely" suspension of the independent press.

The Sudan Government must understand that peace is a public domain that essentially depends on both formal and popular efforts to develop a free dialogue on equal basis between the Sudan Government and the Democratic Opposition and Civil Society groups on the national issues - a civilized negotiation process that should help to solve the Sudan’s Crisis justly and permanently by a free and popular peace rather than any circumscribed ad hoc authority deals.

SHRO-Cairo urges the Sudan Government to abide-by the internationally recognized human rights’ obligations towards the ongoing peace process. The Organization calls upon government to:

? Abrogate the Press and Publications Act together with the Public order Act and the Penal Code that actively provide enduring legal means to repress the press and the other public freedoms;
? Cancel all presidential orders or any other security patronage over the press;
? Allow full enjoyment of the freedom of the press and the other means of free expression, including peaceful organization and assembly, to all citizens without any discrimination;
? Reinstate the legal right of the Khartoum Monitor, the Sahafa, Al-Ayyam and all independent publications to pursue journalist activity without censor; and
? Guarantee judicial procedure for the injured parties to seek full financial and legal compensation for the damage caused by the PNC and the other state security agencies.