MFWA demands unconditional release of Senegalese journalist Pape Ndiaye

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is concerned about the detention of journalist Pape Ndiaye and calls on the Senegalese authorities to release him.

The legal columnist for Walf TV was arrested on March 3, 2023, following some revelations he made about a case in which one Adji Sarr claims that she was raped by politician and opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko.

Pape Ndiaye had alleged in the broadcast that all 19 deputy prosecutors in Dakar were in favour of dismissing the case. He also said that the head of the prosecution would have disapproved of the opinions of the deputies, adding that it was however, the wish of President Macky Sall that the case is sent for criminal prosecution.

After three days in police custody at the Sûreté urbaine, Ndiaye was returned to the prosecutor’s office on March 6, 2023, where investigators asked him to provide proof of his claims. But the journalist replied that he had received this information from his sources whom he could not reveal.

Following this hearing, Pape Ndiaye was accused of spreading false information, inciting the public, discrediting a judicial act, intimidation, endangering the lives of others, reprisal against a member of the Judiciary and being in contempt of court. He was then remanded in custody over these charges.

Mr. Ndiaye’s lawyer, Moussa Sarr, has expressed disappointment over his client’s detention.

“We regret and denounce the fact that a journalist is detained in the exercise of his profession. We believe that the charges against him should not lead to his arrest. This is not acceptable in a self-respecting democracy. Assuming that his statements are inaccurate, a simple denial would have been enough,” said Mr. Sarr.

In November 2022, another journalist, Pape Ale Niang of the news website, Dakar Matin, was detained for his comments on the same case. Mr. Ale Niang would be arrested and detained again in December 2022 over the same issue.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is very concerned about the latest developments surrounding the case of Ousmane Sonko, with the placement of a second journalist under arrest in the space of three months for just commenting on the matter.

For a democratic country, it is odd that a journalist should be arrested and imprisoned like a common criminal for simply criticizing the justice system in the exercise of his journalistic profession.

Also, it is unacceptable that a journalist should be put in prison for an alleged press offence that is still under investigation. We, therefore, call on the Senegalese authorities to release Pape Ndiaye.

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