Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 26
Political Influences: 35
Economic Pressures: 23
Total Score: 84
Life Expectancy: 56
Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (70 percent), indigenous beliefs (25 percent), Christian (5 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Black (52 percent), Arab (39 percent), Beja (6 percent), other (3 percent)
The government continues to severely restrict the ability of the media to operate freely despite constitutional provisions for freedom of expression. On the basis of national security legislation, authorities are empowered to conduct prepublication censorship, confiscate or ban publications, and detain journalists. The quasi-official National Press Council is responsible for applying the press law and has the power to license and suspend newspapers. Under the penal code, propagating false news is punishable by either a prison term or a fine. In January, Nhial Bol, the editor of the English-language daily Khartoum Monitor, was fined for publishing an article implicating the government in slavery. A number of Arabic- and English-language newspapers publish regularly and provide a variety of viewpoints and occasional criticism of the regime. All are subject to official censorship, and many journalists practice self-censorship in order to avoid harassment. Reporters Sans Frontieres noted that authorities had censored the independent media more than a dozen times during the year, often by seizing copies of the newspapers directly from the printing press. Journalists were also subjected to arrest, interrogation, and detention by the security forces as a result of their reporting. Broadcast media are directly controlled by the government and must reflect official views.
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