Smoke rises above buildings after an aerial bombardment during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum North, Sudan on May 1, 2023. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

CPJ urges Sudanese paramilitary forces to cease using media institutions as detention centers

New York, December 12, 2023 – The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that the Sudanese paramilitary group, Rapid Support Forces (RSF), is using state-owned media buildings in Omdurman as illegal detention centers, and calls on all parties in the ongoing war to respect all media establishments.

“The RSF’s use of Sudan’s state television headquarters as detention facilities is extremely shocking and is a clear indication of the deteriorating press freedom in the country amid a deadly war,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “The paramilitary group must immediately stop using media institutions as detention centers and protect these establishments from destruction.”

On Thursday, December 7, the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate, which documents abuses against journalists, reported that the RSF has turned buildings owned by the Sudan Broadcasting Corporation into detention facilities, and that they have been selling its broadcasting equipment in local markets, according to the syndicate’s statement and news reports. The statement also mentioned that the equipment of local independent television channels Sudania 24, Al-Balad, Al-Neel Al-Azraq, and British broadcaster BBC, has been looted from their offices and sold in local markets.

The RSF has had control of the state television headquarters since the ongoing fighting broke out between the paramilitary forces and the Sudanese army April 15, CPJ reported at the time. Since then, many journalists in the country have been killed, shot, beaten, harassed, and arrested while covering the war. 

CPJ emailed Sudan’s army, the Sudanese Armed Forces, and the RSF for comment but did not receive any replies.