The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) strongly condemns the assault of journalist Fatou Dione, a camerawoman with the online media Buur News, and calls on the authorities to investigate and punish those responsible for this barbaric act.
Fatou Diop was physically assaulted in the Senegalese capital Dakar by police officers while covering a demonstration by the Collective for the Release of Political Prisoners (Collectif pour la libération des prisonniers politiques – COLIDEP) on November 5, 2022. The group was holding a series of demonstrations for the release of political prisoners.
Fatou Diop was rushed to the hospital for treatment after she was violently pushed by police officers and lost consciousness. The police, who were already in Dakar’s Place de l’indépendance (Independence Square), became more violent when arresting the demonstrators.
The journalist expressed her indignation in a post on her Facebook page after her condition stabilised.
“It is with tears in my eyes that I write these words to denounce with the utmost energy attacks on journalists. Today we are witnessing police blunders and arrests of journalists in the line of duty. On Saturday, November 5, I was attacked at the Independence Square by the police. This incident will not go unpunished,” she published on November 7, 2022.
Fatou suffered a head injury, but says she is undeterred.
“I’m not fully recovered from the incident, which affects my work a bit. But these are the hazards of the profession. This incident cannot stop me from doing my job,” Fatou Dione told the MFWA.
Several unions and media organisations have condemned the brazen act. In a post on its Facebook page, the Senegalese Union of Information and Communication Professionals (SYNPICS) condemned the barbaric attack by police officers “who must at all costs distinguish between journalists and people who come for other reasons to these kinds of demonstrations.”
The MFWA is extremely concerned about the safety situation of journalists in Senegal and urges the leadership of the police to probe the incident and punish the officers involved. We also call on the Police administration to adopt a policy of zero tolerance for attacks by its personnel on journalists who are only doing their job.
We wish Fatou Dione of Buur News a speedy recovery and call on journalists to continue to exercise their profession in accordance with the rules of ethics and deontology.