A vehicle of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces is seen in Khartoum, Sudan, on May 22, 2023. RSF forces recently assaulted three journalists and detained two of them. (AFP)

Sudanese paramilitary soldiers assault at least 3 journalists, hold 2 overnight

New York, May 23, 2023—All parties to the conflict in Sudan must stop detaining and assaulting members of the press for their work and ensure that journalists can cover newsworthy events without fear, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

Since May 16, soldiers with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have beaten and robbed at least three journalists and detained two of them overnight, according to news reports and Abdelmoneim Abu Idris, chair of the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate trade union, who spoke to CPJ.

Fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the RSF broke out in April in part due to tensions over the Sudanese army’s attempted integration of the RSF, and has left at least 700 people dead and thousands injured.

“By detaining, assaulting, and robbing journalists, Sudan’s RSF forces 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. “Authorities must ensure that all those who target journalists are held accountable so the press can work safely.”

On May 16, RSF soldiers detained 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, according to news reports and Abu Idris.

RSF forces held the journalists overnight and released them on May 17. The following day, RSF soldiers raided Fadl’s house in Khartoum, where Gibril happened to be at the time, and threatened both journalists, beat them, and stole their cell phones, money, clothes, and Fadl’s car, according to those sources.

In a separate incident on May 18, RSF soldiers stopped freelance journalist Eissa Dafaallah while he was filming the aftermath of fighting in the city of Nyala, in the western region of Darfur, and proceeded to beat him and steal his cell phone and money, even after he identified himself as a member of the press.

CPJ was unable to immediately determine the extent of the journalists’ injuries from those beatings. CPJ emailed the Sudanese Armed Forces and the RSF for comment but did not receive any replies.