The Senegal correspondent of the Paris-based Radio France Internationale (RFI), Sophie Malibeaux, was on Tuesday October 7, 2003 arrested and ordered expelled by the government of Senegal. A statement issued by the Ministry of Interior claimed Sophie “tried to sabotage the peace process through biased handling of the Cassamance issue.”
According to Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)-Senegal, Sophie was picked up in Ziguinchor, south of Senegal, in the morning of October 7; barely a day after the opening of the Congress of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Cassamance (MFDC) on Monday, October 6. Three plainclothes police officers escorted her to a waiting aircraft belonging to the Senegal national army and flown to Dakar, capital of Senegal.
The RFI correspondent was then promptly transferred into a waiting vehicle and taken to the Ministry of interior where she was informed of her expulsion and ordered to immediately vacate the national territory of Senegal “for the sake of public order.”
The MFWA is saddened by the arbitrary and dispatch manner in which the security agencies in Senegal have proceeded to deport journalist Sophie Malibeaux. The decision itself also contravenes a basic tenet of the UN Declaration on Human Rights, which provides in Article 19 that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; [including the] freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
We appeal to the government of President Abdoulaye Wade to rescind the decision to expel Sophie and, in any case, to give her an opportunity to respond to the charge of which she has already been pronounced guilty.