Sudan muffles free speech

17 November 2010 by Katy Glassborow

The Sudanese government continues to keep a tight reign on free speech in the country thanks to the implementation of draconian national security laws. Rights activists denounce the laws not only as unconstitutional, but also violating international human rights standards.

Khartoum also uses the spectre of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to clip freedom of speech, detaining journalists earlier this month on suspicion of working for the court.

Sudan’s security service accused staff at the Khartoum office of Netherlands- based Radio Dabanga of “working against Sudan,” and collaborating with the ICC.

Earlier this month security forces raided the broadcaster’s office and arrested Radio Dabanga employee Abdelrahman Adam and 13 other human rights activists. Some have since been slapped with the accusation of “crimes against the state.”

Despite international condemnation of the arrests, no Sudanese papers were allowed to cover the events.

“The director of the security services contacted all the papers instructing them not to publish news about this until the government releases approved information,” Darfuri journalist Mohammed said.

While an interim constitution supposedly enshrines press freedoms and safeguards free speech, the government has used its national security laws to silence perceived enemies of President Omar al-Bashir’s government.

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