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President Abdoulaye Wade reacted to the outcry caused by the imprisonment in 2004 of journalist Madiambal Diagne by promising press law reform. But Senegalese journalists are still waiting. And the situation has not improved since then, rather the contrary as history appears to repeat itself. A court in September 2008 sentenced the editor of the daily 24 Heures Chrono to three years in prison for “publishing false news” over an article in which he said that the president and his son Karim were “mixed up in” a money laundering case. El Malick Seck was finally pardoned by the president after eight months in prison.
Journalists, who are frequently threatened, are also vulnerable to interrogation and courts summonses. Critical and independent media have to contend with disguised censorship and deliberate scrambling of the airwaves.
One striking incident sent shock waves through the profession and will not easily be forgotten. A police commando carried out an early morning raid on 17 October 2005 against radio Sud FM in Dakar after it carried out and broadcast an interview with a rebel leader in Casamance, a separatist region destabilised by guerrilla activity. They forcibly closed the station down and arrested everyone on the premises at the time, in its offices and studios. The radio’s correspondents in Ziguinchor in the south-west and Saint-Louis in the north-west were arrested simultaneously and all the station’s relays throughout the country were cut.
Since then the climate has gradually deteriorated between the media and the government. The independent press, which praised “the changeover” to the skies when President Wade came to power in 2000, has become more wary towards him, not to say more critical.
Updated : April 2009
Senegal - 30 August 2013
Senegal - 28 December 2012
Senegal - 17 February 2012