Sign up for PM Award Updates!

Sudan security agents seize newspapers

November 6, 2016

Sudanese security agents seized all copies of three newspapers Sunday, a journalists’ association said, just days after they covered a fuel price hike in reports seen as critical of the government.

Members of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service, or NISS, took copies of Al-Jadida, Al-Tayar and Al-Watan overnight without giving a reason, said the Sudanese Journalists Association.

“This is part of an ongoing hostile policy of security and intelligence agents,” the association said in a statement.

Editors of independent dailies Al-Jadida and Al-Tayar confirmed copies of their newspapers’ Sunday edition had been confiscated.

“Security agents came to our printers early this morning and took all copies of today’s edition without giving any reason,” Al-Tayar editor Osman Mirgani told AFP.

“I believe there was nothing in our newspaper that invited such a step.”

The editor of Al-Jadida said he had not received any call from security agents about the newspaper’s coverage of fuel price hike.

“But at 1:00 am today security agents took all copies of our publication… we don’t know why they are doing such a thing,” Ashraf Abdelaziz said.

Journalists in Sudan complain of harassment from the authorities, and the country regularly ranks near the bottom of international press freedom indexes.

NISS often confiscates entire print runs of newspapers over articles that it deems to be offensive, rarely explaining why.

The latest seizures come just days after the government raised prices of petrol and diesel by about 30 percent, a move that drew criticism from the independent media and opposition politicians.

On Friday, security agents arrested a senior politician of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party for delivering a speech that criticised the fuel price hike.

Fuel price rises have been a sensitive issue in Sudan, where the economy has been badly hit since 2011 when South Sudan gained independence and took nearly three quarters of the formerly united country’s oil reserves with it.

In September 2013, the government slashed fuel subsidies, sparking street protests as retail prices soared by more than 60 percent.

In an ensuing crackdown by security forces, dozens of protesters were killed.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.