IFJ Condemns Repressive Laws in Senegal after Journalist Imprisoned for Defamation

The International Federation of journalists (IFJ) today expressed its outrage over the six-month jail sentence handed down to Moustapha Sow, the publisher of daily newspaper L’Office, after he was found guilty of defaming Senegalese businessman Bara Tall.

"At the time of the judgment against Moustapha Sow last February, the court issued a warrant for his arrest, which was carried out on June 29 even though his lawyer lodged an appeal," Lamine Ndour, editor of L’Office, told the IFJ.

The judgment against Moustapha Sow followed a trial brought against him and his newspaper by Bara Tall, the director of a public works company. Mr. Tall claimed he was defamed in articles L’Office published that alleged his company improperly increased the cost of work it did in the town of Thiès. The scandal, called "the case of the building sites of Thiès," led to a conviction on corruption charges and a prison term for ex-Prime Minister and mayor of Thiès Idrissa Seck

"We are outraged by the imprisonment of Moustapha Sow while he is still appealing his conviction,” said Gabriel Baglo, director of the IFJ Africa Office. “We ask the Senegalese justice system to allow him to remain free while he is going through the appeals process.”

Also facing charges are two Senegalese journalists at daily newspaper L’Observateur who are accused of libel after they reported on alleged corruption in the country.

L’Observateur reporter Serigne Saliou Samb today faces charges stemming from articles on alleged corruption in work done on a road in Senegal called Corniche Ouest. The articles implied that some government officials and a consortium of companies acted improperly.

On July 6, Mamadou Seck, another reporter for L’Observateur, must face the Public Prosecutor of the Court of Dakar on charges he allegedly misquoted Minister for Justice Sheik Tidiane Sy in a story about the freeing of Pape Massata Diack, the agent for the Senegalese national football team who was imprisoned for swindling.

"Since the imprisonment of Madiambal Diagne in 2004, press freedom abuses have been a constant threat in Senegal" said Mr. Baglo. "We urge the country’s justice system to dissociate itself from this campaign of intimidation and we urge the Members of Parliament to decriminalise press offences".

For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries