Sudan: Security forces attack journalists and obstruct reporting on protests

Security forces attacked journalists and prevented them from covering protests in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on 21 October. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Sudanese Journalists Union (SJU), in condemning the attacks on journalists' and urges the government to stop harassing journalists and guarantee their freedom to work.

Protestors on the streets in Khartoum on 21 October. EBRAHIM HAMID / AFP

The SJU reported two incidents against journalists covering the protests. Security forces wearing plain clothes and carrying batons surrounded Saad Eddin Hassan, a correspondent for the Al-Arabiya network, in an attempt to prevent him from reporting on a demonstration taking place in the centre of Khartoum. 

The second incident took place in the South of the city, where photographers for Sky News Arabia were attacked by security forces while covering a peaceful march. According to media reports, the security forces beat a photographer and erased all pictures he took during the protests. The Culture and Information Ministry confirmed the incidents.

Security forces also closed the bridges leading to the centre of Khartoum early in the morning, thereby preventing journalists from reaching the demonstration sites.

The protests that took place in Khartoum and across the country were aimed at drawing attention to worsening living conditions in Sudan and the crackdown on protests. Tribal clashes in Eastern Sudan the week before had left 15 people dead.

The SJU said in a statement: “The General Union of Sudanese Journalists considers the repressive practices of the security forces against journalists and reporters an extension of the transitional government's arbitrary approach towards the press and freedom of expression in the country.”

The Sudanese authorities have repeatedly clamped down on media freedom and union rights. In December 2019, the government issued a decision to ban all unions, including the SJU. The SJU offices have been occupied since December and an arrest warrant against SJU president Al Sadig Al Rezegy was issued.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has further tightened its grip on Sudanese media. It introduced new legal provisions that allow for heavy punishment of critical reporting, several media outlets were closed and journalists increasingly face harassment, including arrests and the removal of press accreditations.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The assaults on journalists and the obstruction of journalistic work show once again that authorities in Sudan do not respect basic principles of media freedom. In this dangerous environment, it becomes even more important that journalists have union representation to support them and protect their rights. We call again on the Sudanese government to stop restricting media freedom and to reverse its ban on the SJU.”

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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