Home | News    Sunday 24 June 2007

Sudan authorities arrest reporter, media employee


June 23, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — A Sudanese journalist and another newspaper employee were arrested without explanation by authorities, prompting reporters to file a petition to the constitutional court to protest against their detention.

Three days ago authorities freed four journalists held for a week for trying to report on violent protests against the construction of a new dam in the Kajbar area in north Sudan. Five other people, including three lawyers are still being held.

Journalists said they suspect the new arrests were also related to the Kajbar protests.

Saad Mohammed Ahmed, public relations manager for the economic weekly Eilaf, was arrested on Wednesday. The next day Mujaheed Abdullah, a reporter with the opposition al-Rai al-Shaab daily was arrested.

Abdullah was initially reported as missing by his family, who only found out he was being detained two days later.

"The constitutional court is responsible for protecting the rights of the people enshrined in the constitution," lawyer Barud Sandal told Reuters. He is one of the lawyers presenting the petition to the Constitutional Court.

He said that once the petition is presented, the court will request an explanation from authorities.

"If it turns out that the detention is not consistent with the law and constitution, the court will order the immediate release of the detainee," Sandal added.

Sandal said that the law and constitution obliged arresting authorities to explain reasons for detention immediately, allow detainees to contact family members, their employers or lawyers.

"None of these happened in Abdallah’s case," he said, adding that "this arrest was unlawful and unconstitutional."

Police clashed with demonstrators on June 13 in Kajbar, killing four.

Locals said the government had not consulted them on plans to construct a dam there which they said would force them from their villages and harm the environment.

Government officials said that the people of Kajbar had overreacted and blamed opposition politicians for inciting the people against a project that was still under study.

Sudan’s constitution guarantees freedom of the press, but journalists and lawyers said the authorities are using unconstitutional laws, including the state security law, to curtail freedoms.


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