AFEX Calls on Authorities in Sudan to Unconditionally Release Journalist Osman Mirghani

Osman Mirghani, the Editor-in-chief of privately owned, Al-Tayyar newspaper in Khartoum July 2014 . Photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) demands the release of Sudanese journalist, Osman Mirghani who has been in detention without charge for the past 26 days.

Agents of Sudan’s feared, National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) on February 22, 2019 arrested Mirghani who is the editor-in-chief of the independent Sudanese newspaper, Al-Tayyar.

According to AFEX sources in Sudan, the health of the journalist is deteriorating as he is unable to access adequate medical attention while in detention.

Although no charges have been brought against him, it is believed that his arrest is in connection with comments he made about the ongoing protests in the country. According to media reports, Mirghani was arrested shortly after he said in an interview that the current protests could result in Al-Bashir’s removal from office. The said comments were made during an interview he granted on the Abu Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia network in Abu Dhabi.

Mirghani was detained incommunicado until last week Wednesday, March 13, 2019 when his family was allowed to see him for the first time since his arrest. AFEX’s contact, who pleaded anonymity, indicated that Mirghani’s health and safety was at risk.

“Now we are concerned about his health and even his life because we are not certain about the conditions of the prison where he is being kept.”

It is alleged that Mirghani is being detained at a facility where political prisoners are usually held by the NISS.

This is the second time the journalist is being targeted for being critical of the government. On December 15, 2015, Mirghani was arrested and detained together with the editor of Al-Saiha newspaper after they criticised the Sudanese government in their publication.  

The incarceration of Osman Mirghani for exercising his constitutionally guaranteed right to free expression violates Article 39 of the 2005 Interim Constitution of Sudan as well as provisions of regional and international frameworks including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR).

Mirghani’s case provides further evidence of the deteriorating freedom of expression situation in Sudan since protests broke out in December 2018 resulting in increased violations such as arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists and protesters, police brutalities against protesters including killing, Internet shutdown and confiscation of newspaper publications.  

AFEX joins the global community to condemn the arbitrary detention of Mirghani and call on the government to immediately and unconditionally release him. We also urge President Omar Al-Bashir to uphold the fundamental rights of the people of Sudan during the crisis and at all times.