Home | News    Saturday 30 May 2009

Sudanese lawmakers agree to drop fine from press law

May 29, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese parliament agreed to remove the heavy fine imposed on the journalists in a draft law discussed currently by the legislators, the head of Sudanese journalists syndicate said.

Mahi Eddin Titawi, said yesterday they had agreed with a National Assembly subcommittee reviewing the contested press draft law to drop the fine of 50,000 Sudanese pound (21,500 US dollars) that journalists could face for unspecified offences.

Titawi further said the journalists would not have to be registered at the government controlled press council but at the journalists syndicate.

The draft of press law is one of many laws that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) were meant to come to agreement on in order to codify the reforms outlined in the interim constitution and Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the North and South in 2005.

More than 50 Sudanese journalists protested outside the National Assembly in Omdurman against a draft law of press largely criticized for repressive articles it includes on Tuesday May 19 when the parliament begun to discuss the bill.

The new press bill put the media and the media houses under the control of the Sudanese presidency which appoint 8 of the 21 members of the Press Council. No media house will be established or journalist authorized to exercise this activity without a licensing from the council.

However the syndicate failed to convince the lawmakers to modify the percentage of the composition of the press council.

Titawi said they should review the report of the House sub-committee before to present it to the parliament on Monday.

In a letter sent to the 11th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, taking place from 2 to 19 June 2009, ARTICLE 19, supported by the Khartoum Center for Human Rights and Environmental Development (KCHRED) expressed serious concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Sudan.

ARTICLE 19 and KCHRED recommend that the UN Human Rights Council renews the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan.

The organizations also urged the Government of National Unity to: protect the rights to freedom of expression and access to information in the run-up to the national elections in 2010; revise the draft press law and the 1999 National Security Act in accordance with international human rights standards.

(ST)