78 African journalists and press freedom organisations urge Senegal to free reporter, respect press freedom

Pape Alé Niang, journaliste sénégalais incarcéré depuis novembre 2022.

At the request of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 78 African journalists and press freedom organisations have signed an appeal to Senegal to release Dakar Matin editor Pape Alé Niang and to respect the country‘s constitution, which enshrines press freedom.

Arrested on 6 November, released on 14 December and then rearrested six days later, Niang is currently hospitalised as a result of going on hunger strike and his health is beginning to deteriorate.

The 78 journalists calling for his immediate release and the withdrawal of the spurious charges brought against him include such leading African media figures as Pape Saine, the editor of the Gambian newspaper The Point, Seidik Abba, an analyst and specialist in African issues working for international media, Hopewell Chin'ono, a well-known Zimbabwean investigative reporter, and Ignace Sossou, a Beninese journalist with Benin Web TV who was unjustly jailed for six months.

The appeal has also been signed and is being actively supported by such journalists’ rights organisations as the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

This appeal is an act of solidarity with our colleague Pape Alé Niang. It is remarkable that so many leading African media names are supporting this appeal, a message that must be heard by the Senegalese authorities. These repeated arrests constitute a flagrant violation of the Senegalese constitution. As a result of his arrests and his hunger strike, Pape Alé Niang’s physical condition is now very worrying, as is the decline in respect for press freedom in Senegal.

Christophe Deloire
RSF secretary-general

Addressed to the Senegal’s political and judicial authorities, the appeal underlines the importance of the freedom to report the news in Senegal, a country long renowned for its media pluralism and its respect for the press. In a democratic country, the media must not be subjected to attacks and intimidation. 

Charged with revealing information “likely to harm national defence,” “receiving confidential administrative and military documents” and disseminating “false news likely to discredit state institutions,” Niang was returned to prison on 20 December.

At his inauguration in 2012, President Macky Sall nonetheless pledged that no journalist would ever be imprisoned while he was running the country.

Senegal is ranked 73rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index, 24 places lower than in 2021.

The appeal of the 78

“PAPE ALÉ NIANG HAS NO PLACE BEING IN PRISON”  

We, journalists from the African continent, are alarmed by the plight of our colleague Pape Alé Niang and are very concerned about the consequences of his imprisonment on his health, on press freedom and on the right of all citizens to news and information. We therefore call on the Senegalese authorities to free him. 

Pape Alé Niang’s release by the justice system will end a serious violation of the principles of press freedom in a country that has ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and recognises the right to information and the right to express oneself and disseminate one's opinions.

Unless the judicial authorities want the international community to think that they seek to silence Pape Alé Niang and limit the right of Senegal’s citizens to be informed, they must free him at once and drop all charges against him.  

His imprisonment highlights the existence of other challenges for the media in Senegal, once a press freedom flagship in Africa. We point out that, despite the existence of a bill, Senegal lacks a law on access to information, which prevents journalists and citizens from accessing state-held information. It is time to remedy this without delay and to amend the Press Code in order to decriminalise press offences. 

We remind the Senegalese authorities that journalists, including Pape Alé Niang, provide information about matters of public interest. Senegal prides itself on being a democracy and journalism is a cornerstone of democracy. It is anachronistic in a democracy such as Senegal to put a journalist in prison.

Senegal was ranked 49th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index but it fell to 73rd place in the 2022 Index. We would not like to see it fall any further.

Signataires

1. Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Africa bureau - Senegal
2. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ Africa) - United States
3. Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) - Senegal
4. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Africa bureau - Senegal
5. Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) - Ghana
6. Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism in West Africa (CENOZO) - Burkina Faso
7. Union of West African Journalists (UJAO) - Senegal
8. Coordination of Press Associations (CAP) of Senegal (Synpics, Appel, CDEPS, CJRS, CTPAS, UNPJS and URAC) - Senegal
9. National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) - Somalia
10. Journalist in Danger (JED) - DRC 
11. EKÔLAB Journalism Project - Benin
12. Zubaida Afua Mabuno Ismail, investigative journalist - Ghana 
13. Moussa Aksar, investigative journalist - Niger
14. Diallo Ibrahim Manzo, journalist - Niger
15. Seidik Abba, journalist and writer - France
16. Francis Laloupo, journalist and trainer - France 
17. Stephen Douglas, journalist - Sierra Leone
18. Mohamed Kabba, journalist and media editor - Sierra Leone
19. Peter Quaqua, journalist - Liberia 
20. Dunbar Alline, journalist - Liberia 
21. David Alloycious, journalist - Liberia 
22. Silva Filomena, journalist and media editor - Liberia 
23. Nouhou Baldé, Guineematin.com founder and general manager, Guinea 
24. Sékou Pendissa Jamal, journalist, president of the Guinea Union of Journalists - Guinea 
25. Hadja Kadé Barry, journalist - Guinea 
26. Ignace Sossou, investigative journalist - Benin 
27. Badarou Aziz, journalist - Benin
28. Worou Tchehou Loukoumane, journalist and editor - Benin 
29. Assogbadjo Maryse, journalist - Benin 
30. Sandrine Ouédraogo, investigative journalist - Burkina Faso
31. Aimé Nabaloum, journalist and editor - Burkina Faso
32. Vincent Kaboré, journalist - Burkina Faso
33. Ouattara Abdoulaye, journalist - Burkina Faso
34. Aminata Sanou, journalist - Burkina Faso
35. Sagnon Mariam, journalist - Burkina Faso
36. Toe Jean Marie, journalist - Burkina Faso 
37. Thienon Jean Michel Boudayinga, journalist - Burkina Faso
38. Ouédraogo Arnaud, journalist - Burkina Faso
39. Barry Ouédraogo Djenaba, journalist - Burkina Faso
40. Sanou Aminata, journalist - Burkina Faso
41. Taoko Hervé, publisher - Burkina Faso
42. Fatu Camara, journalist, Fatu Network director - Gambia 
43. Muhammed S. Bah, journalist, GPU president - Gambia
44. Pap Saine, The Point editor - Gambia
45. Baba Hydara, journalist, The Point co-editor - Gambia
46. Sosseh Ndey Tapha, journalist - Gambia
47. Jahatey Lamin, journalist - Gambia 
48. Kodmadjingar André, journalist, FM Liberté - Chad 
49. Wiche Djimet, Alwihda Info editor - Chad 
50. Eric Topona, journalist, French-language section at Deutsche Welle (DW) - Germany
51. Noël Konan, investigative journalist - Côte d’Ivoire
52. Diedri Anderson, journalist - Côte d’Ivoire 
53. Mamoudou Ibra Kane, E-media director-general - Senegal
54. Assane Diagne, French-language editor at The Conversation Africa - Senegal
55. Mamadou Thior, CORED coordinator - Senegal
56. Birame Faye, IPAO media coordinator - Senegal
57. Ibrahima Lissa Faye, Pressafrik director - Senegal
58. Massaer Dia, journalist - Senegal
59. Momar Dieng, investigative journalist - Senegal
60. Momar Diongue, editor - Senegal
61. Samba Dialimpa Badji, journalist - Senegal 
62. Bamba Kassé, Synpics general secretary - Senegal 
63. Jacques Ngor Sarr, media editor - Senegal 
64. Adama Gaye, writer/journalist, former ECOWAS communication director - Senegal 
65. Maxime Domégni, investigative journalist and trainer - Togo
66. Sossou Yewa Etoname, journalist - Togo
67. Kuvo Pierre Claver, journalist - Togo
68. Silva Filomena, media editor - Cabo Verde
69. Omar Faruk Osman, journalist, NUSOJ general secretary - Somalia
70. Abubakar  Mohamed Osman, journalist, Shabelle Media Network - Somalia 
71. Boukary Daou, Le Républicain editor - Mali 
72. Diop Massiré, journalist - Mali 
73. Diallo Mariam, journalist - Mali
74. Traoré Seydou, journalist - Mali 
75. Thsivis Tchivuadi, JED president - DRC 
76. Zeid Saleck, journalist - Mauritania
77. Isine Ibanga, editor - Nigeria 
78. Hopewell Chin’ono, investigative journalist  - Zimbabwe

 

Publié le