The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) strongly condemns the arrest of the Senegalese journalist Pape Sané of the Walfadjri Media Group, and calls on authorities to release unconditionally.
On November 13, 2023, officers with the gendarmerie’s Colobane research section in Dakar arrested Pape Sané for allegedly spreading false news under Article 255 of the Senegalese penal code. If convicted, the journalist could face up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to 1,500,000 West African francs (US$2,450).
Sané was arrested after a Facebook post in which he criticised the sacking of the Commander of the gendarmerie, General Jean Baptiste Tine. The commander was fired in March 2021 after demonstrations over the arrest of the Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko.
“Senegalese will never forget you. Sacking an officer, especially the Commander of the National Gendarmerie, without even giving him a chance to say goodbye to his men, is the worst kind of humiliation. General Jean Baptiste Tine suffered this fate when he was sacked after the events of March 2021. He was sacked with immediate effect and replaced on the same day without ever properly handing over his duties to his successor. And the general was due to retire barely three (3) months later.” Sané said in the post.
The arrest of the Sané’s sparked condemnation and outrage in the country. In a statement, the Coordination des Association de Presse (CAP) said that “it is unacceptable for a journalist to be arrested for expressing an opinion.” CAP urged the government to put an end the arbitrary arrests of journalists and report any grievances to the Senegalese media regulatory body, Conseil pour l’Observation des Règles d’Éthique et de Déontologie dans les Médias (CORED).
The MFWA demands the unconditional release of Pape Sané and joins the Senegalese media to demand an end to the wanton arrests of journalists and dissenting voices in the country. We are concerned about the widespread arrests of journalists in Senegal, especially in relation to their coverage of the Sonko affair, a topic deemed taboo by the authorities.
Sénégal, which was once celebrated as a model democracy in Africa, is now famous for the serial imprisonment of journalists, among them Pape Ale Niang, Pape Ndiaye, Sérigne Saliou Guèye, Babacar Touré and Oustaz Assane Seck.