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Lack Of Press Freedom In Sudan

The independent monitoring group Human Rights Watch issued a written statement saying "The Sudanese government is engaged in an increasingly blatant effort to muzzle and intimidate Sudan's independent press."

According to Human Rights Watch, Sudanese and foreign journalists are being harassed by Sudanese authorities. They include Saad al-Din Hassan Abdallah, a correspondent with al-Arabiya television. He was detained for several hours in October after reporting on the Sudanese government's expulsion of citizens in the Amri region where a dam is being constructed.

Further, says Human Rights Watch, "newspaper editors were warned not to cover the violent police actions against anti-government demonstrations which took place in Khartoum on August 30 and September 6 following the announcement of price increases for fuel, sugar and other basic goods."

Georgette Gagnon, deputy director of the group's Africa division, says that the Sudanese government also restricts journalists from covering the war in the western Darfur region:

"Our information is that it is very difficult, not only for local media, but for international media, to actually get the permit from the government that allows you to travel into Darfur."

Fighting broke out there in 2003 after rebels complained that the region had been marginalized by the central government. Rebels attacked Sudanese government facilities. In response, Sudan's government armed a militia that attacked not only rebels but also civilians. More than two-hundred-thousand people in Darfur have died from the fighting, famine, and disease. Some two million now live in refugee camps in Darfur or in neighboring Chad.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says "People need information in order to hold their government accountable. And, she says," in Sudan and elsewhere, "an independent press helps make such accountability possible."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.