Fi al Mizan Team Defy Censorship
Amid a crackdown on press freedom by the Sudanese government, a radio programme on justice issues, co-produced by IWPR and Dutch-based Radio Dabanga, continues to provide a rare source of impartial news to Darfuris and refugees in eastern Chad.
The weekly programme Fi al Mizan, or On the Scale, investigates justice issues affecting people's everyday lives and is translated into Arabic as well as three local languages: Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit.
Airing in Sudan and eastern Chad, it reaches more than a million internally displaced persons, IDPs, residents and refugees on a weekly basis.
Not only has Khartoum attempted to block the station's signal, but a Radio Dabanga contributor, Abdelrahman Adam Abdelrahman, was recently among a group of human rights activists arrested by the government. He is being held in detention without access to a lawyer or contact with his family. (See - The Perils of Reporting in Sudan)
Radio Dabanga's production team - Tajeldin Abdhalla Adam, Assadig Mustafa Zakaria Musa, Katy Glassborow and Simon Jennings - who broadcast from The Netherlands due to Sudanese government censorship, say they are determined to continue providing impartial news.
"Being a journalist in a place like Sudan is very harsh, and even dangerous," Adam said. "The recent wave of arrests of journalists conducted by the security forces, including our colleague Abdelrahman, is no surprise. Despite all the difficulties and the government crackdown on media and ongoing censorship, it is imperative for Fi al Mizan to carry out our work because it is the only viable option for the people on the ground to have access to independent and unbiased news on all justice-related issues."
Abdelrahman is accused of several serious charges, including crimes against the state. He is one of a growing number of detained journalists considered members of the opposition by President Omar al-Bashir's ruling National Congress Party.
"The press and the journalists inside Sudan encounter a lot of problems while they work to communicate information to ordinary people about what is going on in Darfur," Musa said. "The government doesn't want this, and because of their policy, there is no freedom of speech or freedom of the press in Sudan. Through Radio Dabanga, we try to let people get information about their own lives and what is going on elsewhere."
Musa added that the programme had been dogged by government interference ever since it launched two years ago.
"But we know that people view us as a hope, and we are going to do our job anyway, because we know that people need to know their rights in order to survive," he said.
As well as covering wider legal topics including the immunity granted to government officials and ICC-related developments in the country, Fi al Mizan - which launched in November 2009 - has also addressed local justice in Sudan.
This has included an alleged financial scam in El Fasher, north Darfur, known as the Mawasir market, which led thousands of Darfuris to lose millions of dollars.
And earlier this year, a three-programme series explored the difficulties of prosecuting the crime of rape in Sudan, explaining what sexual violence is; how it is treated under international law and the problems encountered when prosecuting the crime locally.