We thank the High Commissioner for her oral update, and welcome her appointment of Adama Dieng to monitor the human rights situation in Sudan. With an unfolding crisis for the right to freedom of expression in the country, we urge the High Commissioner and Adama Dieng to fully examine violations of this vital right and report to the Council.
Since October 2021, authorities in Sudan have adopted a range of repressive actions that have denied the right to freedom of expression and assembly. This includes harassment, intimidation of protesters and citizens, and arbitrary raids on media houses. To date, at least 71 people have been killed in Sudan.
The Sudan military continues its onslaught against a free and independent media through unauthorised home searches against journalists and arbitrary raids of media houses, namely Al Araby Television, Al Arabiya, Al Hadath and Al Sharq. Many media houses have had their licences cancelled, such as Al Jazeera, while at least 30 news websites have been blocked for publishing content of protests or criticisms of the military in Sudan.
We are further concerned by amendments and proposed amendments to laws during the pandemic period that further limit the right to freedom of expression and media freedom at this critical time. The amendment to the Law on Combating Cyber Crimes (2018) has increased the penalty on publishing so-called ‘false news’ from one year to four years’ imprisonment. Additionally, the bodies created by the draft proposals on the Press Council Act (2021) and the Radio and Television Act (2021) lack independence and are open to abuse.
As the High Commissioner and Expert on Human Rights in Sudan embark on writing their upcoming report on the human rights situation in Sudan, ARTICLE 19 encourages strong recommendations on Sudan to immediately end all violations of the right to freedom of expression, online and offline, including attacks on journalists and media houses.