Senegal: Activist Arrested for Comments on TV Programme

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Senegal on February 26, 2016, summoned Senegalese activist, Mamadou Mouth Bane, for comments deemed “seditious” during a TV programme.

The programme, which was aired on the eve of February 26 on Walf TV, discussed the upcoming referendum to reduce the presidential term of office from seven years to five years, a highly debated topic in Senegal. Bane was the only panelist out of four to be summoned by the CID.

According to the MFWA correspondent in Senegal, the Coordinator of the “Jubanti Senegal” (Reform Senegal) movement, Bane  was first summoned  on February 26 but he did not show up at the premises of the DIC as he was allegedly preparing for a protest march. The said protest was to urge people to vote against the reduction of presidential term of office in a Referendum to be held on March 20, 2016.

On the day of summon (February 26), some officials of the CID stormed the premises of Walfadjri Group to demand recordings of the said programme.

Having failed to secure the recording from the media house, the police turned to the regulatory body for audiovisuals, Conseil National de Régulation de l’Audiovisuel (CNRA) for that piece of evidence. The CNRA also declined the request, reaffirming that its mandate is to keep and protect recordings of all audiovisual programmes and not to use them as a tool to repress free speech.

Bane responded to the CID summon on February 29 for interrogation. The CID however arrested him and sent him to the Brigade des Affaires Générales (BAG), an internal security agency located at a high court in Dakar, where he was detained for more than 12 hours and released later in the evening.

The harassment of Bane for expressing his views on the referendum is a violation of his right to free expression and it is therefore unacceptable. The MFWA commends the CNRA for refusing to release the recordings requested by the police. The duty of the police is to protect and defend the rights of citizens. We therefore find it worrying that officials of the CID as enforcement agents rather suppress free speech in Senegal.

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