Sudanese security authorities seized the entire print-run of an opposition newspaper, Al-Midan, for the third day in a row on March 18.
The seizure comes just days after the country's president Omer al Bashir justified such violations of press freedom in a television broadcast and marks the latest assault on media freedom. Al-Midan is the mouthpiece of the opposition Sudanese Communist Party and has been the targetted before.
Security also seized two of Al-Midan’s editions last week, accusing it of ignoring orders to avoid reporting on the case of a girl killed by police, the paper’s editor-in-chief Madiha Abdella told Reuters.
"Yesterday evening security authorities seized all copies of the newspaper in the printing house after they had been printed without giving any reason," she said.
Sudan has one of the most restrictive media environments on the African continent. Security forces routinely confiscate newspaper copies containing articles covering sensitive issues or deemed critical of the government.
In results published as part of UNESCO 2011 World Press Freedom Day, Sudan ranks as 40 out of 48 in Sub-Saharan Africa for press freedom.
In an interview aired by Al-Jazeera last week, Sudan’s president Omer Al-Bashir sought to justify his government’s crackdown on media, saying the papers singled out for suspension had published negative comments about the country’s army.
Sudan’s constitution guarantees press freedom but laws subordinate to it such as the National Security Forces Act of 2010 of the NISS are perpetually used to punish newspapers and prosecute individual journalists.
Ali Shomo, the head of Sudan’s National Council for Press and Publication (NCPP), the official regulator of the print-media sector, bitterly admitted in an interview published by Al-Sudani newspaper on March 11 that his body’s mandate is overpowered by that of the NISS.