Reporters Without Borders today voiced dismay at brutal methods used yesterday by police in Dakar who mounted a dawn raid to shut down the broadcast group Walfadjri.
The security forces intervention, in which broadcast equipment was forcibly seized, was ordered by the courts over a failure to pay royalties.
“If there is a dispute between the Senegalese royalties’ bureau (BSDA) and the Walfadjri media group, it should be resolved by other means,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “Nothing can justify the use of force and seizure of equipment. The outright suspension of broadcasts has the chief effect of depriving a section of the population of access to news", it added.
Uniformed police made a 6am raid on the broadcast group’s offices in the Kébé building in Dakar city centre, violently seizing equipment and cutting aerials, abruptly ending broadcasts.
The BSDA lodged two cases against the Walfadjri group at the special court in Dakar and a judge ruled in its favour after studying the initial complaint on 6 August 2009. This decision was notified to the chairman of the media group, Sidy Lamine Niasse, on 13 August.
The court ruled that all programmes put out on radio and television Walfadjri FM with content to which royalties applied should be temporarily suspended until completion of the legal procedure and payment in full of the royalties owed - 50 million CFA francs (76,225 euros). Lamine Diasse had refused to accept the court decision.