4 Sudanese charged with defamation and cybercrimes for social media activity

The Government of Sudan has relied on restrictive laws to control press freedom as well as online activity. The Cybercrimes Act, 2007 criminalizes, among others, defamation, breach of public order and morality, which attract a prison sentence, fine or both. The Act however does not specify what would constitute defamation or breach of public order and morality.

In July 2017, Mr. Izzeldien Dahab, a journalist with Algareeda newspaper, was charged with article 17 (defamation) of the Cybercrimes Act, 2007 in connection with an article published in Algareeda newspaper on 10 April 2017 about corruption in the Ministry of Finance in South Darfur.

On 24 July 2017, during a Government organized workshop, an information security expert emphasized importance of putting in place restrictive legislation aimed at combatting cybercrimes. The expert made reference to an increase in information related crimes citing statistics from the police showing an increase in cases from 72 cases in 2013 to 122 cases in 2014. He added that in 2015 the reported cases reached 462. He also pointed out the number of complaints on defamation via Facebook increased from 2016.

At the same workshop, Mr Mohamed Abdel-Rahim Yassin, the Director of the National Information Centre stated that the Cabinet Ministers had approved a new law on cybercrimes that was tabled before the Sudanese Parliament for approval. He also added that if adopted, the law would make Sudan one of the leading countries in combating cybercrimes. He mentioned that a team of experts were working hard to put in place strategies on how to deal with the information related crimes.

The Government’s efforts to combat information related crimes have however been viewed as attempts to extend restrictions to online content with an aim of further suppressing dissenting voices.

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