Senegal: Hospital staff attack journalist covering alleged medical negligence

The Media Foundation for West Africa strongly condemns the brutal attack on journalist Ousmane Kane of Radiodiffusion Télévision Sénégalaise (RTS) by some twenty staff members of the regional hospital in Louga.

On April 15, 2022, Ousmane Kane, who is the head of RTS station in the Louga region, went to the maternity ward of the Amadou Sakhir Mbaye regional hospital in Louga (about 200 km north of Dakar) to report on a controversial incident.

According to sources, Astou Sokhna, a pregnant woman, lost her life during childbirth over alleged “medical negligence” and “lack of care” by the hospital’s medical staff. Unhappy with this accusation, the staff decided to hold a press conference to announce their dissatisfaction and the closure of the hospital’s maternity ward.

Upon his arrival at the hospital, Mr. Kane was approached by two security guards who forbade him to record without authorization. The journalist, who is used to covering events in the hospital, was surprised and did not receive an answer when he asked who he should consult to receive the authorization.

“I had my press card on me and they didn’t even ask to see it. They told me I had to be given permission. I said, who should I be asking permission from? When no one was killed here, we would simply come every day and do our job,” he told the MFWA in a telephone conversation.

Ousmane Kane had finished his story and was just about to leave when a group of about 20 hospital staff surrounded him, roughed him up, and destroyed his two phones. One of the hospital doctors, who recognized the RTS manager in Louga, intervened and rescued him in the nick of time.

“They insulted me, brutalized me, took me by the collar, and even broke my two cell phones. They got in my car, searched my bag, confiscated the work material I had, and took it away,” he told MFWA.

The press in Louga rallied to support the regional head of Radio Senegal. Ousmane Kane filed a complaint and was received the next day by the police commissioner of Louga. His work equipment was returned to him, but his two cell phones are still damaged and the perpetrators of the attack have still not been punished.

Ousmane Kane says he is a little disappointed that such a mindset still exists. However, he is not disheartened. He considers journalism to be a dangerous profession in which one must be prepared for any contingencies.

“It’s a high-risk job. You have to be prepared for anything, and that includes such cases. That in no way hinders my desire to constantly seek out information. Even if I have to be roughed up again, I will do it,” he said.

The MFWA welcomes the moral support shown by the press to Ousmane Kane. We urge Senegalese authorities not to let this action sink into oblivion and to bring the perpetrators of this barbaric act to book.

It is appalling that a journalist is treated in such a way. Awareness should be raised on the importance of journalism and room should be made for the press to do its job.

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