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Sudan’s parliament tables new press law

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by Sudanese newspaper Al-Sahafah on 12 June

    The information and communication committee at the parliament and the future directions' body yesterday approved the draft bill of the new press law. The new draft bill, which consists of seven parts and 30 articles, is to be widely discussed in parliament before its ratification and the annulment of current laws.

    The current press laws stipulate that newspapers can freely and independently conduct their business but should protect individual privacy and safeguard peace.

    The new law stipulates that newspapers should not be confiscated, supervised, banned nor should their registration be withdrawn or their publication suspended except through a court order. It also stipulates that the court must be regulated by law when suspending any publication in order to safeguard freedom of expression and at the same time recognize the need for restrictions in a democratic society.

    Copies of the new press laws should be widely available to the press, which should not use restrictions imposed on it to criticize the state or its institutions.

    The National Press Council should be established according to law as an independent legal entity respecting cultural and social diversity and be answerable to parliament. The National Press Council is to consist of 23 members, five representatives from the national legislature, seven members elected by journalists, two representatives from the newspapers' owners, two lecturers on journalism and five eminent public personalities.

    As for matters related to registration and practice of journalism, these should be referred to the council in writing. The council would also contribute in solving conflicts within the journalistic community and in agreement with the concerned parties.

    The press council law allows for punishments of warnings and reprimands. The new press law stipulates that fines must be fixed by the court and newspapers suspended in case of repetition of an offence and abolition of permit to publish if they repeat the same offence more than twice. The press law gives the court the right to suspend a journalist from practising his profession.

    Source: Al-Sahafah, Khartoum, in Arabic 12 Jun 07



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