RAN 36/10: SUDAN

March 18, 2011

RAN 36/10: Two Rai al-Shaab reporters released, editor still detained

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International (WiPC) welcomes the release of Rai al-Shaab journalists Ashraf Abdel Aziz and Altahir Ibrahim on 6 February 2011, on completion of their sentence. However, the WiPC remains concerned about the continued detention of Rai al-Shaab deputy editor Abu Zar Al-Amin, who was sentenced in July 2010 to five years in prison, and who is reportedly suffering from poor health as a result of torture. The WiPC also protests the continued incommunicado detention of nine other journalists. It considers the detention of Al-Amin and the nine other journalists to be in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and calls on the Sudanese authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally.

Abu Zara al-Amin, Ashraf Abdelaziz and Dahab Ibrahim, respectively deputy editor and reporters working for the opposition daily newspaper Rai al-Shaab, were arrested during a raid by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on the newspaper’s offices in Khartoum on 16 May 2010. Al-Amin and Ibrahim were reportedly tortured by NISS agents. On 15 July 2010, all three journalists were convicted of “undermining the constitutional system” and “publishing false information”. Al-Amin was sentenced to five years in prison while Abdelaziz and Ibrahim received two-year sentences.

Both Abdelaziz and Ibrahim were released on 6 February 2011 after completing a one-year prison sentence; their sentences had been reduced on appeal from two years to one in November 2010. Rai al-Shaab was suspended for one year at the same hearing. On the journalists’ release, they stated that they had been tortured during their initial detention and they were not informed of the reason for their arrest. They also said that conditions at Kober prison were very poor, with overcrowding a particular problem.

Al-Amin remains still in prison; it is assumed that his appeal was unsuccessful. Reports suggest that he is suffering from poor health as a result of torture and that he is not receiving adequate medical attention.

In a separate case, Khaled Tawfiq, Kamal Karrar, Ibrahim Mirghani and Mohamed Rahma from Al-Midan newspaper, who were arrested on 3 February 2011 (see RAN 05/11), were released on 12 February.

However, nine other journalists remain in detention in Sudan and their whereabouts are still unknown. Samir Salah Eldin, Suleiman Wida’a, Mohamed El-Dirdiri, Abdelazeem Albadawi, Fatima Bashir and Fathia Tinga of Al-Midan,have been detained since 3 February 2011, while Hamza Baloul and Ali Ahmad Haj Al-Amin of Al-Ahdath have been held since 10 January; all of them were arrested after covering protests (see RAN 05/11). Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim of Al-Sahafa has been detained since 3 November 2010 (see RAN 51/10).

TAKE ACTION

Sign the petition below to send the following appeals:

  • Welcoming the release of Rai al-Shaab journalists Ashraf Abdel Aziz and Altahir Ibrahim and four other journalists from Al Midan newspaper;
  • Protesting the arrest and ongoing detention of Rai al-Shaab editor Abu Zara al-Amin, Al-Midan journalists Samir Salah Eldin, Suleiman Wida’a, Mohamed El-Dirdiri, Abdelazeem Albadawi, Fatima Bashir and Fathia Tinga, Al-Sahafa journalist Jaafar Alsabki  and Al-Ahdath journalists Hamza Baloul and Ali Ahmad Haj Al-Amin which the WiPC believes is a clear violation of their right to freedom of expression;
  • Expressing serious concern that some of the journalists have been held incommunicado and that al-Amin has reportedly been subjected to torture;
  • Calling on the Sudanese authorities to release all the journalists immediately and unconditionally and to investigate the allegations of torture against al-Amin;
  • While al-Amin remains in detention, the authorities must ensure he receives the medical attention he requires.
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