KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Two Sudanese opposition papers said on Saturday they would suspend publication in protest against censorship after security forces confiscated their editions last week.
Sudan’s constitution enshrines press freedom but the government uses financial penalties and direct censorship to exert strong control over newspaper reports. Journalists are regularly arrested and harassed.
“While the rest of the region is opening up because of protests, the Sudanese government is going the other way,” said Faiz al-Silaik, deputy editor-in-chief of the daily Ajras al-Huriya.
His paper, linked to the SPLM ruling party in oil-producing south Sudan which is due to secede from Sudan in July, was confiscated twice last week by the security forces.
The opposition al-Midan paper, linked to the Communist Party, was also taken on Thursday.
“Both papers are going to suspend publication tomorrow in protest,” al-Silaik said.
Confiscating papers is the maximum penalty as the papers’ owners have to pay for printing without being able to sell the papers. Government companies often threaten to stop placing advertisements in newspapers, which encourages self-censorship.
Human rights groups have expressed concern at a crackdown on freedom in Sudan’s north ahead of the south’s secession. Small anti-government protests have been crushed by police and activists arrested and tortured, they report.
The security forces were not immediately available to comment on why they confiscated the papers.