Senegal: BBC Afrique staff protest against the dismissal of Jacques Matand

The BBC Afrique media staff protested against the dismissal of journalist Jacques Matand and the sanctions taken against several colleagues, regarding an interview with Franco-Cameroonian writer Charles Onana on Rwanda. The International Federation of Journalists support all their demands to the BBC management board.

BBC Media Staff. Credits: BBC Afrique Union

BBC Afrique statement:

It is with great concern, We, BBC Afrique employees, learned the dismissal of our colleague Jacques Matand Diyambi and the sanctions taken against several colleagues, regarding an interview with Franco-Cameroonian writer Charles Onana on Rwanda, broadcasted four times on radio and published on the BBC Afrique website.

Therefore , we would like to inform you of the followings:

After reading Mr. Matand's dismissal letter, we are shocked to realize that the decision was motivated by an alleged complaint by the Rwandan authorities, several weeks after the interview was broadcasted.

BBC Afrique union contacted several Rwandan authorities to inquire about the complaint but they denied that there was no complaint in regard with the interview done by our colleague. Furthermore, speaking to different international media such as Jeune Afrique, Voice of America, Rwandan officials have denied making the alleged complaint to BBC management.

 We would appreciate if the alleged complaint or any related document that have led to Jacques’s dismal and warnings of other colleagues could be made available to us.

We find it difficult to imagine that third parts, Rwandan authorities in this matter, are the main indicator of the quality of the work of a BBC journalist.

We would like to understand how the above-mentioned interview considered as problematic was broadcasted 4 times with the approval of the editor. It was also published by other services such as the Greatlakes service of the BBC without any sanction being taken.

We wonder what could justify such decision in a newsroom placed under the responsibility of an editor? What would be her editorial responsibility? This seems to go against the basics of journalism, the management of newsrooms and against BBC guidelines.

Why the same content qualified as scandalous stood on BBC Afrique website weeks after it was put on air on radio, and days after the dismissal of our colleague.

We would like to remind you that BBC programs were suspended in Rwanda in October 2014 following a documentary made by the BBC panorama service entitled "Rwanda's untold story".

This dismissal of our colleague who happen to be the , Secretary General of the union SYNPICS section, is already causing several reactions all over the world especially on social media. Our facebook page has been receiving various reactions from anger, worries from our listeners.

Over the last decades, BBC has acquired a positive reputation and has established a relationship with its audience based on trust and respect but this decision is jeopardizing that reputation. Congolese politicians and civil society figures have threatened to call for a boycott of BBC Afrique and BBC radio partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The unfair decisions portray BBC as an institution incapable to withstand political pressure and, therefore, compromises its independence by sacrificing one of its journalists to please the Rwandan authorities. This is not worthy of radio, whose history has been marked by total independence from political powers. The epic of the June 18 appeal is a long way off.

We are worried that this unfair decision could be related to the closure of more than 400 jobs announced by BBC management as per the social plan? We are aware of planned redundancies, but we urge that it is done in the respect of the local law

This illegal decision of BBC Afrique management has deteriorated the working environment at BBC Dakar office.

For a peaceful working environment, we would like to invite BBC management to:

  • Cancel the dismissal of our colleague Jacques Matand.
  • Cancel all pending sanctions against our other colleagues in Dakar Bureau.
  • Improve the relationship within the service in order to improve productivity and better programs.
  • Establish an environment of inclusive dialogue instead of a management based on intimidation and harassment that prevails in Dakar bureau.

We will appreciate BBC management favourable consideration of our request.

This Petition has been endorsed by:

  • SYNPICS ( Syndicat des Professionnels de l’Information et de la Communication Sociale du Sénégal )
  • FAJ  (Fédération Africain des Journalistes)
  • FIJ (Fédération Internationale des Journalistes)

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