Home | Press Releases    Saturday 27 March 2004

RSF Urges Justice Ministry to End Suspensions of Newspapers

RSF has welcomed Justice Minister Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin’s initiative to limit suspensions of newspapers to 24 hours, but the organisation called for further reforms to completely abolish such bans.

On 16 March 2004, Yassin said he had taken steps under Article 130 of the 1991 Criminal Procedure Code to limit suspensions to 24 hours, preventing the suspension for unlimited periods of newspapers that are the subject of investigations.

RSF welcomed this step, which aims to halt repeated and abusive suspensions. However, the organisation urged President Osman Hassan al Beshir and Parliament to follow through on this logic by adopting, at the very least, a presidential decree or law to definitively ratify the new measures. Better still would be a measure abolishing all suspensions of newspapers, the organisation stressed.

During the summer of 2003, President Beshir proclaimed his commitment to press freedom, saying censorship of the press would be halted. But the newspaper suspensions continued unabated throughout the autumn, on the orders of the prosecutor in charge of crimes against the state.

Publications that were censored included "Al-Ayam", one of Sudan’s oldest established dailies, which was suspended for nearly three months before reappearing on 2 March 2004, and the English-language daily "Khartoum Monitor", which has the dubious distinction of holding the record for suspensions, having been suspended for a total of 219 days in 2003. The paper was allowed to reappear on 21 March 2004.