A senior United Nations official today voiced her concern after a Sudanese court jailed a journalist for covering the case of an alleged rape of an activist by security forces, stressing that it is the perpetrators that must face criminal charges, not those reporting on such crimes.
Margot Wallström, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said that such judgments not only infringe on the freedom of speech and of the media but also stifle survivors of sexual violence from speaking publicly about the crimes committed against them.
“Regardless of the facts of the case, Sudanese journalists have a right to report on rape and other forms of sexual violence,” she said in a statement.
“Rapists – not reporters – must face criminal charges in the Sudan,” she added. “Only by addressing sexual violence openly can we have any chance of breaking what has been called history’s greatest silence and, ultimately, rooting it out.”
Last week a court in Khartoum sentenced Amal Habani, a journalist from the independent daily Al-Jarida who was covering the case of alleged rape of an activist by security forces following an anti-Government protest earlier this year.
The court reportedly sentenced her to pay 2,000 Sudanese pounds ($600) or go to jail for one month, and she chose to go to jail. Her sentence is the second ruling since prosecutors launched charges of defamation against several Sudanese journalists for writing about the alleged rape.
Another female reporter at the daily, Fatima Ghazali, was given the same sentence earlier this month. She was imprisoned for one month after refusing to pay the fine, according to media reports.