Sudan joined three other countries in the Arab World that pledge to respect and protect media freedom and the right to information.

On 7 January, Sudan signed the Declaration on Media Freedom in the Arab World. The declaration promotes and defends the principles of the right to information, freedom of expression, equality, media law reforms, and the independence of public service broadcasters.

Sudan joined Palestine, Jordan and Tunisia, which approved the Declaration in August. Senior government officials, journalists, civil society organisations and human rights activists gathered to witness the signature at a ceremony in Khartoum last week.

‘The government is committed to respect press freedom in Sudan,” said Yasir Yusif Ibrahim, State minister for media affairs, at the ceremony. “This was one of the main outcomes of the national dialogue in Sudan and will guide the work of the new government which will take office in the near future.”

This is an important step as Sudan ranked 174 out of 180 in the Reporters without Borders 2016 World Press Freedom Index and is known for closing down newspapers, such as the newspaper Al-Tayyar.

‘This is a historic moment for Sudanese journalists and the media,” said Monir Zaarour, the IFJ Coordinator for the Middle East and the Arab World. ‘We are confident that adopting the Declaration will help in opening a new chapter in relations between the state and the media sector in Sudan.’

After signing the Declaration, the government announced it would allow Omdurman TV to reopen. The private broadcaster, which often criticised the government’s policies and austerity measures, was closed a few weeks ago under the pretext of an invalid permit.

Header image: Sunset in Khartoum. Credits: Ahmed Rabea/Creative Commons