LONDON: The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned what it described as the assault and detention of media workers in Sudan, and called on all parties to ensure reporters can operate without fear.
“By detaining, assaulting and robbing journalists, Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are showing the extent they are willing to go to obstruct free reporting on the country’s conflict,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour recently.
“Authorities must ensure that all those who target journalists are held accountable so the press can work safely.”
According to the media watchdog, since May 16 soldiers with the paramilitary RSF have beaten and robbed at least three journalists and detained two overnight.
Abdelmoneim Abu Idris, chair of the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate trade union, expressed concern about the allegations.
“The (threats) are coming from both sides. Supporters of the army are making calls and messages to journalists that they perceive to be pro-RSF and the RSF is making calls to people that they think are pro-army,” he explained in a recent interview.
A bloody conflict broke out in Sudan in April between the two ruling forces in the country, in part due to tensions over the Sudanese army’s attempted integration of the RSF.
The fighting has been mainly concentrated in urban areas, and has resulted in at least 700 deaths and thousands of injuries.
On May 16, RSF soldiers reportedly detained and held overnight Ahmed Fadl, a reporter for Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera, and Rashid Gibril, a photographer for the outlet, at a checkpoint in the capital city of Khartoum.
The following day, members of the RSF reportedly raided Fadl’s house, where Gibril was also present, and threatened both journalists, beat them, and stole their cell phones, money, clothes and private car.
The CPJ also reported that on May 18, RSF soldiers beat and robbed freelance journalist Eissa Dafaallah while he was documenting the aftermath of fighting in the city of Nyala, in the western region of Darfur, after he was accused of working for military intelligence.
In a separate incident, paramilitary forces stormed the media office of the independent newspaper El-Hirak El-Siyasi to intimidate staff and steal their belongings, according to the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate.