Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) Protest

Federation of African Journalists (FAJ)

Press Statement

16 December, 2019

African journalists strongly condemn dissolution of Sudanese journalists’ union as a gross human rights violation

The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the African Regional Organisation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), condemns in the strongest terms possible, the decisions of transitional authorities of Sudan to dissolve all trade union organisations including General Union of Sudanese Journalists, an affiliate of FAJ and IFJ. This is a gross violation of the inherent rights of working journalists and a deliberate breach of the international conventions that guarantee the inalienable right of freedom of association and independent organisation of workers into trade unions and to which Sudan must adhere.

FAJ, which represents journalists in more than forty African countries including Sudan, particularly deplores the attitude of the current transitional rulers of Sudan who, instead of fulfilling their international and national obligations of protecting these fundamental rights, are intent on dissolving and disorganising legitimate civic organisations through unlawful means and spurious cover ups.

On the night of 14 December 2019, the ruling Sovereignty Council issued a degree to dissolve all trade unions and professional associations in Sudan. Lieutenant General Yasser Al-Atta, member of Sovereignty Council, who heads the Committee of “elimination of empowerment and fighting corruption” which was created by the Sovereignty Council, announced that the Committee had decided to seize all properties and assets of all trade unions and establish a committee to revise trade union laws and prepare for new election for leaders of trade unions under these new laws.

By this unlawful decision, FAJ emphatically states that Sudan has effectively suspended trade union rights which are fundamental human rights. The decision to dissolve trade unions in Sudan, including the well-known Union of Sudanese Journalists, is a naked move to invalidate elected leaders of trade unions and stands out as purely unconstitutional and unlawful both nationally and internationally. This baseless decision is politically motivated and is clear in its agenda to annihilate or take over legitimate trade unions for partisan intentions. It flies in the face of international human rights commitments, particularly the African and international conventions which Sudan must comply with and practically implement. Chief among these conventions is Article 5 of ILO Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association which recognises the right of workers’ organizations to establish or join federations and confederations of their own choosing.

“Interfering in internal affairs of trade unions is unacceptable and in direct contravention of human and trade union rights. The authorities in Sudan must revoke the decision to dissolve trade unions and begin to engage in genuine and meaningful dialogue with unions, including journalists union, about legislative reforms in line with Sudan’s international obligations. Workers’ rights must be fully respected ” said Zied Dabbar, Vice President of FAJ, speaking on behalf of the Federation’s Steering Committee.

“We also warn against any concoction of fabricated charges or allegations used as a pretext to discredit, stigmatise and de-legitimise the trade unions and in turn, legitimise the politically motivated campaign to destroy and take over trade unions,” declared Dabbar.

“The unlawful and arbitrary decision to dissolve trade unions and create an environment where the authorities imposes their will on independently organised groups like trade unions, kills any hopes for Sudan to take the democratic path and become a state where the rule of law is respected and upheld and the citizens of Sudan enjoy equal access to justice,” added FAJ Vice President.