Senior editors in Sudan have reported the seizure of the Sunday print runs of two independent newspapers, fueling growing concerns about the state of press freedom in the country.
The editors of Al Sahafa and Al Jarida told reporters that security officers took all the copies of the newspapers, providing no explanation for confiscating them.
Seizing print runs after they have come off the press is a tactic that Sudanese security forces often employ as it causes significant financial damage to publishers who are already operating in a difficult economy. Several newspapers have been forced to close this year because of the struggling publishing industry.
Journalists and press freedom advocates say a media crackdown has intensified since last year as tensions with neighbouring South Sudan have escalated. As well as seizing newspapers, the authorities have reportedly banned journalists from writing and ordered certain newspapers to cease publication.
Journalists were also at the centre of demonstrations over high inflation rates in June and July of this year, with a number of members of the press detained following the protests.
“...clamp down on the press”
Edries Al-Doma, deputy chief editor of Al-Jarida, said a censor had visited his newspaper’s office on a daily basis prior to the Eid al-Fitr holiday, but had not visited since the holiday ended around 10 days ago.
Editorial manager of Al Sahafa, Hassan Al-Batari said: "Mainly they censor the stories related to security issues."
In June, the UN expert on human rights in Sudan, Mashood Adebayo Baderin, expressed serious concerns about restrictions on press freedom in the Sudanese media.
He said he had been made aware of the situation "with particular reference being made to the use of national security laws to clamp down on the press, including closure of media houses, arrest of journalists and confiscation of newspapers."
Vice President Al-Haj Adam Youssef told reporters last month that freedom of expression has greatly improved in Sudan over the past two decades but noted that the government was unable to allow the media to serve the interests of powers and influences who aim to destroy the state.
Sudan ranks 170 out of 179 countries on the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.
DCMF published a report earlier this year expressing concerns about what 2012 might bring in terms of restriction of the media in Sudan, in which the Emergency Assistance Team outlined the repressive media environment within which Sudanese journalists find themselves.
Source: AFP, DCMF