September 23, 2009
His Excellency Abdoulaye Wade
President of the Republic of Senegal
c/o Permanent Mission of Senegal to the United Nations
238 E. 68th St.
New York, NY 10021
Via facsimile: (212) 517-3032
Dear Mr. President,
The Committee to Protect
Journalists is heartened by your recent directive to the prime minister to renew
consultations with the press on the decriminalization
of press offenses in
According to an official
statement reported by the state-run Senegalese
Press Agency, you asked the prime minister on Friday to start talks with
the press. Also on Friday, Judge Mamadou Kane of the regional tribunal of
Kaolack jailed reporters Papa Samba Sène of private
daily L’As and Abdou Dia of Radio Futurs Médias, according to local
news reports. Kane charged the journalists with defamation, publishing false
news, and criminal conspiracy under
We urge you now not only to decriminalize press offenses, but also to address a culture of impunity for those who attack journalists and to review the police’s practice of interrogating journalists who criticize your administration.
In prepared remarks
to your delegation in
Mr. President, we also ask you to review long-standing censorship and intimidation practices, such as interrogating journalists and blocking the distribution of information or views critical of your administration. This year for instance, a judge blocked the distribution of the June edition of the monthly newsmagazine L’Essentiel, ruling that its headlines, which criticized your government’s performance, risked “gravely disturbing public order,” according to news reports. On August 28, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Senegalese police interrogated three journalists of daily Le Quotidien for several hours, pressing them to reveal sources and retract stories critical of the administration, according to the same sources.
Finally, we urge you to use your influence to address a pattern of impunity for those involved in harassing and attacking journalists for their coverage. For example, none of the policemen involved in the June 2008 beating of sports journalists Babacar Kambel Dieng and reporter Kara Thioune have been charged, according to local journalists. In fact, CPJ investigations found that members of your administration, supporters of your party, security forces, and followers of the politically influential Mourides Muslim brotherhood involved in incidents of physical and verbal abuse of journalists have seldom been publicly brought to account or prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
We would like to encourage you to continue to take positive steps toward restoring your country's reputation as a haven of press freedom. Thank you for your attention to this matter.