Sudan confiscates editions of three newspapers

Sudanese authorities on February 4, 2014, confiscated the editions of three independent daily newspapers from the printing press, according to news reports and local press freedom groups.

A spokesman said that the papers–Al-Sahafa, Alwan, and Al-Ayam–had been confiscated because they had published stories on February 3, 2014, that used the word “Janjaweed” to describe the militias that had killed a merchant in the city of El-Obeid in North Kordofan state the day before, according to news reports. Janjaweed are pro-government militias that were accused of committing genocide and crimes against humanity during the civil war in Darfur, according to the International Criminal Court.

The spokesman said the militias were part of the government’s Rapid Deployment Forces, which is part of the Sudanese Popular Defence Forces.

The seizure of the papers came despite pledges by Sudanese officials in 2013 to end the practice of pre-publication censorship, a tactic often employed by the National Intelligence and Security Services to censor news outlets in advance of publication.