Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
- With continuing conflict, violence, and tension in the Darfur region and Southern Sudan, the government in Khartoum maintained its restrictive and heavy-handed media policies in 2008.
- There are no existing laws that explicitly guarantee freedom of the press. The highly restrictive 2004 Press and Printed Press Materials Law has been used by the government to suppress critical reporting, and media watchdogs have called for its repeal.
- The government has been accused of reestablishing censorship policies beginning in February 2008. The security agencies have eliminated articles from papers such as Al-Sahafa and have reportedly been making nightly visits to Al-Midan’s printing press to have articles removed. Police were also accused of seizing newspaper copies. On April 13 the National Security Service demanded that the editors of 10 papers submit their content for prepublication approval. When the papers refused to do so, the copies were seized. Protests against censorship were also dealt with harshly, as 70 anticensorship demonstrators were arrested for a short period in November.
- Regular government closures of newspapers have been reported. Two English-language papers reporting on the south, the Sudan Tribune and the Citizen, were closed for several weeks, apparently for not complying with administrative requirements. The National Press and Publications Council allowed both papers to continue publishing after they addressed these issues. Other papers that were banned or forced to close for a period of time included Al-Midan, Al-Alwan, Al-Rai al-Shaab, and Ajrass al-Huriya.
- Journalists faced harassment, attacks, and intimidation by both government and nongovernmental forces.
- Entry into the media is difficult unless one is a supporter of the government, and all journalists must pass a difficult Arabic-language exam regardless of the language they intend to use professionally.
- The government runs one Arabic and one English-language newspaper.
- The state dominates the broadcast media, the main source of information for much of Sudan’s population. Television broadcasts are formally censored, and radio content must reflect the government’s views.
- Even though there have been some reports of harassment of journalists, press freedom conditions in Southern Sudan are somewhat better than in areas controlled directly by Khartoum. The regional government was still in the process of establishing its legal framework for the media. At the end of 2008, the southern legislature was considering a series of bills that would govern access to information, public broadcasting, and other important subjects.
- Internet penetration in Sudan is among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, with 8.7 percent of the population able to access the medium in 2008. The government monitors the internet, reads private e-mail correspondence, and blocks websites. The video-sharing site YouTube, for instance, was blocked for a period during the year.