A Senegalese Magistrates’ Court based in the capital, Dakar, on August 29, 2013 sentenced two journalists to a month imprisonment each.
The journalists, Mamadou Biaye, a former director of privately-owned Le Quotidien, and Bastien David, a French national who practiced as an intern at the same newspaper were convicted in a libel case instituted against them by a former foreign minister, Alioune Badara Cisse.
The Minister, popularly known as ABC, accused the two of defaming him in an article they published on June 20, 2013 titled “Fired by the government, challenged and shunned by his own party … the ABC of solitude.”
At the trial the two journalists were not present and were sentenced in absentia. The Court in addition imposed a three month suspension on the newspaper and a fine of 10 million CFA francs (about US$20,000).
The conviction of the two journalists and the additional suspension and fine imposed on the newspaper by the Court is a clear repression of freedom of expression in Senegal.
The continued existence and application of criminal libel laws remains one of the biggest threats to freedom of expression and democratization. This underlines the MFWA’s campaign for decriminalization of such laws in the region.
We, therefore, call on the Senegalese government to repeal all laws that criminalize speech as part of democratic reforms in the country.
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Kwame Karikari (Prof)
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