Sudan’s Press and PublicationsAct of 2009Katie MatternSIS-645
The Press and PublicationsLos Angeles Times Act of 2009 • Repealed the Press and Publications Act of 2004, which allowed for widespread harassment of journalists • Changed very few aspects of the 2004 law, and kept many of the repressive policies • Members of opposition parties protested the law when it was debated in parliament, along with journalists and civil society members; government repealed two of the harshest provisions for violators: ▫ Imprisonment ▫ Fine of up to U.S. $21,000 for newspapers and journalists
Limits of Press CoverageCited from the Press and Publications Act of 2009 • The Press and Publications Act outlines some of the following duties of journalists: ▫ “Observe honesty and integrity when performing their professional duties while observing the values and principles enshrined in the constitution and law” ▫ “Refrain from disclosing information on national security and operation” ▫ “Refrain from obstructing the court of justice when covering the court proceedings or investigations” ▫ “Avoid stirring commotion or exaggeration when covering or presenting crime-related news or civil violations”
Limits of Press Coverage (continued)• Additional duties of journalists: ▫ “Refrain from publishing material that is anti-religious or in contraction with the noble beliefs, norms or scholarly knowledge to spread sorcery or quackery” ▫ “Not to stir faith-based, racial or ethnic turmoil, or incite violence or call for war” ▫ “Respect and protect public manner, morals, religious values, individual honor, privacy and sanctity as well as to refrain from offending public decency” ▫ “Refrain from receiving foreign funds or donations that would undermine their integrity or impartiality”
Additional provisions• Press Council is responsible for monitoring all publications and accrediting newspapers and foreign correspondents ▫ Under direct control of the government ▫ Eight of the 21 members are directly appointed by the President, including the Secretary General ▫ The President also has final approval of its budget and all actions
Additional provisions• Editors-in-chief are held liable for everything printed in the newspaper ▫ From the Press and Publications Act: “The editor- in-chief shall be the first person responsible for the editorial performance of the newspaper; he shall be held liable criminally or otherwise for all content published in the newspaper without prejudice to other legal liability of the journalist, writer, artist, printer or distributor”
Additional provisions• Registration of journalists ▫ All journalists must be registered with the government ▫ Form fields include name, bank account and map where journalists must point out their exact address ▫ Creates fear with government having the ability to track down journalists at their homes and punish their families for what they cover
Pre-Print Censorship• Used heavily during times when the international community is critical of government ▫ Examples: Darfur, ICC warrant, South Sudan recession vote• National Intelligence and Surveillance Services (NISS) officials visit newspapers before they go to print• Cut out any articles that are critical of the government or cover “sensitive” issues• Monitors can cut out so much of the paper that occasionally they cannot go to print, leading to a loss of money for the papers
Abuses of Journalists• Image from Amnesty International’s report, “The Chain’s Remain: Restrictions on Freedom of Expression in Sudan” ▫ Caption: “Abuzar Al Amin, the deputy editor of Rai Al Shaab newspaper, shows the bruises left after he was tortured and ill-treated following his arrest on 15 May 2010. He was later sentenced to five years’ imprisonment because of articles his newspaper published – he is a prisoner of conscience.”
Videos and News fromZambianWatchdog.com #SudanRevolts • Video of government using tear gas to disperse protestors, article from AllAfrica.com • AFP Correspondent Simon Martelli arrested for covering Sudan protests • Video of protests from Egyptian journalist Salma Elwardany ▫ Detained and facing deportation from Sudan • “Why I’m participating in June 30 Protests! #SudanRevolts” ▫ Blogger was arrested hours after posting the video • Al-Jazeera English Report: “Has springtime finally arrived in Sudan?”
Tweets from ForeignCorrespondents Covering Sudan
Tweets from ForeignCorrespondents Covering Sudan
Recommendations• Push for the repealment of the Press and Publications Act of 2009• Pressure government and bring awareness to the international community about the detainment of Sudanese journalists• Cover the plight of journalists in the country in publications and the abuses they have been experiencing
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