CAIRO – Amnesty International on Friday urged the Sudanese government to halt what it describes as "relentless harassment, intimidation and censorship of journalists" in the country.
In a report documenting the arrests of at least 15 journalists by state security forces between January and October, the rights group says the media in Sudan are frequently targeted by the National Intelligence and Security Agency for their reporting, especially for publishing articles criticizing government policies.
Sudan has been ranked 174 out of 180 countries in 2017 world press freedom index by Reporters Without Borders, a media watchdog.
Amnesty said NISS agents often show up at newspaper printing presses to review each edition, ordering editors to drop certain stories before publication or altogether confiscating entire print runs.
According to the report, entire print runs of 10 newspapers were confiscated on at least 27 occasions.
"Since the beginning of 2018 the Government of Sudan, through its security machinery, has been unrelenting in its crackdown on press freedom by attacking journalists and media organizations," said Amnesty's Sarah Jackson.
Journalists have been summoned and interrogated for several hours virtually every month this year, Amnesty added, with some being arrested and charged, and others imprisoned simply for doing their job.
A talk show program on Omdurman TV was banned on Aug. 31 after interviewing politicians who criticized a decision by the ruling National Congress Party to nominate President Omar al-Bashir to stand for a third term in 2020.
Al-Bashir, who has ruled Sudan for decades, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide charges linked to the conflict in Darfur dating back to 2003.
"The Sudanese authorities must stop this shameful assault on freedom of expression and let journalists do their jobs in peace. Journalism is not a crime," Jackson said.