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Newspaper editor receives death threat

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 12 December 2011 - ANHRI expresses its concern about Sudanese journalist Dengdit Ayok, deputy editor of the English-language newspaper "Destiny", who received a death threat via email for publishing an article critical of the country's president, Salva Kiir.

In November, Ayok was detained for two weeks and "Destiny" was suspended after publishing its first two issues, after it reported on the marriage of the president's daughter to an Ethiopian. The authorities deemed the article as "unethical to the profession of journalism". One of the reasons given for the decision, which was signed by the director of the Internal Security Agency in Juba, Akol Koor Kuc, is that it is noted that on many occasions, the newspaper continued reporting on "isolated topics that should not be published for the public".

Although five months have passed since independence, journalists in Southern Sudan are working without any legislative instruments that regulate the press and publications, or any code that guarantees the rights of journalists and protects them from detention and fines. Hence, the ruling authorities have full power to assess what is professional and objective and what deserves to be sanctioned with a detention or brought to trial.

"The closure of a newspaper and death threats for a journalist are not the best start for the authorities in Southern Sudan when it comes to addressing journalistic freedoms. As a matter of fact, it is obliged to behave differently than Northern Sudan, in terms of newspapers being confiscated, websites being blocked, and the detention of journalists. It is quite unfortunate that this nascent state pursues the same infamous practices," said ANHRI.

"The authorities must introduce a law protecting press freedoms and guaranteeing freedom of opinion and expression in its peaceful form, so as not to drift to the list of restrictive anti-press states," added ANHRI.

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The use of criminal law to silence people who write about public issues is a significant problem in many countries…

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