The police in Senegal have come under fire by the media for beating up a camerawoman Adja Ndiaye of the news website Dakaractu, and destroying her camera.
The Dakaractu crew, like other media personnel, went to the Police Department of the Madina District of Dakar on September to cover the case of Dj Malick. The activist of the “luttons contre l’indiscipline des sénégalais” [let’s fight against the indiscipline among Senegalese], a Facebook movement which issues alerts on certain acts of misbehavior observed in the local public space, was responding to a summon from the brigade in charge of Cybercrime.
According to testimonies received by the journalists’ union in Senegal (Synpics), the journalists had left the vicinity of the General Directorate of the Police at the request of the police and had moved to the Place du African Souvenir, in order to be addressed by the activist. It was when the journalists had Dj Malick in front of them that the police returned and prohibited the press from gathering in the public space.
While the journalists were packing up their equipment, an officer attacked the Camerawoman from Dakaractu, giving her a violent blow before pushing her to the ground. The journalist, whose camera got damaged, protested vehemently and was arrested by the entire pack of police officers present at the scene. She was, according to the testimonies of several journalists present, handcuffed, beaten, insulted by the swarm of agents.
The violence has angered media actors as well as human rights organisations. The Synpics through its President Bamba Kassé, said “by forbidding journalists to do their work in front of the Police Department, the security agents erred through overenthusiasm and therefore violated press freedom and freedom of expression.”
The Coordination des associations de Presse (CAP), which brings together all the country’s media organisations, wrote a letter of protest. It said “the state of health of the camerawoman has deteriorated very badly” and urged the Minister of the Interior to ensure that the perpetrators of this aggression are identified and punished in accordance with the laws and regulations governing our administration.”.
The Association des editeurs et professionnels de la presse en ligne, a union of Association of online media professionals, for its part, said in a statement that it “is expecting an exemplary sanction so that attacks against journalists and technicians cease”.
The case has also attracted international interest. The Congress of African Journalists (CAJ) said it joins Synpics in providing support “to comrade Adja Ndiaye and calls on the government to put an end to the recurrent police violence against journalists and the media, which undermines the fundamental principles of press freedom and workers’ rights recognised in Senegal. “
In the same vein, the press organisations on September 30, met the Minister of the Interior, Aly Ngouille Ndiaye to present a letter of protest against the police excesses.
This is the second assault on a journalist since March 25, 2020. On that date, a police officer assaulted two journalists from Touba TV, including Awa Ndiaye, for covering the enforcement of a curfew aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19.
The MFWA strongly condemns the assault on Adja Ndiaye and calls on the authorities to investigate the incident and ensure that the perpetrators are held to account.