The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned “threats to independent journalism and free expression” in Senegal after a politician threatened radio journalists and a judge sentenced the director of a newspaper to jail for slander.
The IFJ was concerned that the two incidents were indications of the hostility of Senegalese officials toward a free and independent press.
On Tuesday Ndiogou Wack Seck, director of the daily newspaper Il est midi, which is closely linked to the ruling party of the government, was convicted of slandering two close relations of President Abdoulaye Wade. The Correctional Court of Dakar sentenced Seck to six months in jail, assessed a heavy fine against him, banned publication of the newspaper for three months and prohibited him from acting as director during those three months.
“We protest against the judgment of Ndiogou Wack Seck and this heavy fine,” said Gabriel Baglo Director of IFJ Africa office. “We are worried by the persistence of the authorities of Senegal to maintain these draconian and retrograde laws, which block press freedom in the country.”
The court fined Seck 40 million Francs CFA (60.900 euros) in damages to be paid to the plaintiffs, Senegalese State lawyer Ousmane Sèye and Alex Ndiaye, a close relation of the President. They sued Seck for writing an article published on 14 November 2006 that said during the negotiations that led to the release of the ex-Prime Minister Idrissa Seck, Sèye and Ndiaye, agents of the President, accepted bribes from Seck.
Idrissa Seck, also mayor of the town of Thiès, was imprisoned for seven months after he was convicted of embezzling funds intended for construction projects.
In a separate incident on Wednesday, Moustapha Cissé Lô, the leader in Touba (Central Senegal) of the ruling party and member of the Republic Counsel, raided Radio Disso FM, a radio station based in the region. According to Ibrahima Benjamin Diagne, director of the station, Lô arrived at the station’s offices on Wednesday evening with about 10 young men to complain about a programme that aired on the radio some hours before.
During the programme, a listener had called in to say he was offended because Lô was on the list of ruling party candidates in the upcoming legislative elections.
“Mr. Lô said in our newsroom and to the whole staff that “the first one who will say my name on your station, I will kill him. And I will send my men to ransack your radio,” Diagne said.
The National Union of Media Professionals of Senegal (SYNPICS), called on the media professionals in Senegal to boycott all of Lô’s events and activities. SYNPICS said it will give legal support to the journalists of Radio Disso Fm and file a civil suit.
“We firmly condemn these threats and will follow this situation closely,” the IFJ’s Baglo said.
For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries