His Excellency President Omar Al Bashir
President of the Republic of Sudan
Office of the President
PO Box 281
15 November 2011
We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our grave concern at your government’s continuing crackdown on critical media.
Despite your announcement in August that all jailed journalists would be released, the campaign of suppression and intimidation of the press continues. According to reports, at least eight journalists remain in prison and censorship, threats and bans are almost daily events.
In the most recent incident, security agents arrived at the offices of the Arabic-language Alwan newspaper late in the evening of 22 October and banned the distribution of the following day’s edition. No reason was given for the ban. This follows last month’s closure of the privately owned Al-Jarida daily, the suspension of six sports newspapers and the banning of an edition of Al-Sahafah daily, as well as several cases of journalists being physically attacked.
WAN-IFRA is seriously concerned at the continued repressive tactics used against journalists, including the shutting down of newspapers, the detention of journalists by the country’s security forces and the routine use of pre-publication censorship despite the law’s repeal. We respectfully remind you that it is the duty of the state to provide an environment in which citizens are able to exercise their right to freedom of expression without fear of harassment and violence. State intimidation in Sudan has created a climate of fear that promotes self-censorship.
We call for an immediate end to pre-publication censorship and respectfully remind you that your government committed to guaranteeing freedom of expression for the people of Sudan when it became a signatory to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights in 1982. We express our solidarity with journalists in Sudan who face censure for writing about contentious issues, such as ongoing clashes in Blue Nile state, and urge you to take all necessary steps to end the intimidation of the press.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
World Editors Forum
WAN-IFRA is the global organisation for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organisation groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.
The Embassy of Sudan in Paris (l’Ambassade du Soudan à Paris);
Mr Mohammed Bushara Dousa, Minister of Justice, Republic of Sudan;
The Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Sudan to the United Nations;
Adv. Pansy Tlakula, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights;
Mr Omar Farouk Osman, General Secretary of Eastern African Journalists Association EAJA;
Makki Maghrabi, Chairperson of the Press Freedom Committee, Sudanese Journalists Union.