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Sudan Tribune

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Another Sudanese journalist jailed on rape case charges

July 25, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Amal Habani, a Sudanese female journalist, was jailed on Tuesday for writing against the alleged rape of a female activist by security agents, in yet another case of targeting local journalists through legal proceedings.

A Sudanese female journalist in a protest against censorship (FILE)
A Sudanese female journalist in a protest against censorship (FILE)
The Khartoum Media Court, presided over by judge Mudathir al-Rashid, sentenced Habani to a fine of 2,000 pounds (roughly 700 USD) or a month in jail on charges of publishing false information and violating journalistic ethics.

The charges stem from an op-ed in which Habani fulminated against the country’s powerful National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on the grounds of the alleged rape in February of Safia Ishaq by three NISS agents.

Habani, who works for the privately-owned Arabic daily Al-Jaridah, refused to pay the fine and chose to go to prison. She was immediately transferred to Omdurman’s prison for women, multiple sources told Sudan Tribune.

Saad al-Din Ibrahim, Habani’s editor, was also ordered to pay a fine of 5000 Sudanese pounds (roughly 3000 USD).

Habani is one of several journalists awaiting trial on the same offenses after they all wrote articles condemning the NISS for Ishaq’s alleged rape.

Another female journalist, Fatima Ghazali, was the first to be tried earlier this month on the same case. She was convicted and sent to prison after she refused to pay her fine.

Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based press-freedom watchdog, last month lamented “the disgraceful way the authorities are harassing and prosecuting journalists in Khartoum and the north of the country in an attempt to silence them and stop embarrassing revelations about human rights violation by the security forces.”

Last month, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based advocacy group, said that Sudanese authorities continue to “aggressively” target individual journalists and publications through “contrived legal proceedings, politicized criminal charges, and confiscations.”

Results published as part of UNESCO 2011 World Press Freedom Day, Sudan ranks as 40 out of 48 in Sub-Saharan Africa for press freedom. Amnesty International described Sudan as a place where “freedom of speech is being so openly violated”.

(ST)