A police officer is seen in Dakar, Senegal, on December 3, 2021. Senegalese journalist Pape Ndiaye was recently jailed on false news charges. (Reuters/Cooper Inveen)

Senegalese journalist Pape Ndiaye jailed on false news charges

Abuja, March 10, 2023–Senegalese authorities should immediately release journalist Pape Ndiaye and drop all legal proceedings against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday.

On March 3, police in the capital city of Dakar detained Ndiaye after he responded to a summons, according to media reports and the journalist’s lawyer Moussa Sarr, who spoke to CPJ by phone and messaging app.

On Tuesday, March 7, a judge charged Ndiaye with six crimes including “spreading false news,” and ordered him transferred to a prison in the town of Sebikotane while he awaits trial, Sarr told CPJ.

The allegations against Ndiaye, a reporter with the privately owned Walf TV broadcaster, stem from his on-air commentary about the prosecution of opposition politician Ousmane Sonko, according to Sarr and those news reports.

“Senegalese authorities should immediately release journalist Pape Ndiaye, cease jailing members of the press for their work, and reform the country’s laws to ensure they cannot be used to criminalize journalism,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. “The jailing of journalists has thrown into serious doubt Senegal’s reputation as a stable democracy in West Africa.”

Sarr told CPJ that no complaint had been filed against Ndiaye, and that the case was being pursued at the discretion of a government prosecutor.

The six charges include provoking a crowd, contempt of court, intimidation and reprisals against members of the judiciary, speech discrediting a judicial act, spreading fake news, and endangering the lives of others, the journalist’s lawyer told CPJ.

CPJ’s calls to government spokesperson Abdou Kerim Fofana and Justice Minister Ismaila Madior Fall rang unanswered or did not connect.

In late 2022 and early 2023, another Senegalese journalist, Pape Alé Niang, also faced arrest and detention over reporting on Sonko’s case, before being released on bail.