Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sudan Charges 3 Journos With Defamation

Flag of the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Mov...Image via WikipediaReporters Without Borders ("RWB") is voicing concerns about curbs on free expression in Sudan after authorities charged three journalists with defamation for urging a probe into allegations of the purported gang rape of a political activist by plain-clothes security officers.

Saffia Ishaq, a member of Grifna, an anti-government group, claims she was beaten and gang-raped three weeks after she participated in anti-government protests on Jan. 30 that resulted in numerous arrests of demonstrators and journalists covering the event by anti-riot police backed by National Intelligence and Security Services agents, according to a story in the Sudan Tribune. Accused of defamation and publishing false information were Faysal Muhammed Salih, a columnist for the daily, Al-Akhbar; Amal Habani of  the Al-Jareeda newspaper; and Fayiz al-Silaik of the SPLM-affiliated Ajrass Al-Hurriyah.

The Sudan Tribune reported that copies of two dailies covering the Jan. 30 demonstrations were confiscated by the government. Habani told Reuters that her newspaper had fired her because it was afraid of government retribution.

RWB Secretary-General Jean Francois Julliard condemned the reporters' arrest, calling it "another example of determination to gag the press and curb free expression." Broadcast media in Sudan is tightly regulated by the government, while print media engage in self-censorship because of financial dependence on government advertisements.
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