Activist and critical journalist arrested, released on bail

Association

On 16th July 2019, activist Guy Marius Sagna was arrested and interrogated over a Facebook post on 15th July 2029 in which Sagna commented on the lack of medical facilities in Senegal after a former politician died in a hospital in Paris. After three days, the activist was charged with ‘raising false terrorist alarm’ under the Criminal Code over a press statement signed by FRAPP- France Dégage, of which Sagna is a member, on France’s military presence in Africa. Sagna denies that he was involved in the statement. He was released on bail on 16th August 2019, but still faces charges which could land him a prison sentence of five years. Vivian Affoah of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) commented:

“This is a clear case of persecution of a dissident that challenges the usual narrative about Senegal being a country with sterling democratic credentials and a tradition of respect for divergent opinion.”

Sagna, along with five others, was arrested again on 30th August 2019 for having participated in a protest on labour rights. He was released without charge a few hours later. 

Expression

On 29th July 2019, officers of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Judicial Police arrested freelance journalist and consultant Adama Gaye at his home in Dakar. He was charged with ‘insulting the Head of State’ and ‘compromising state security’ over a series of Facebook posts Gaye wrote, criticising the management of the gas and oil sector by the president and one post alleging that president Macky Sall had an extramarital affair. Gaye is a well-known outspoken critic of the government. He was released on bail on 20th September 2019. Ravi R. Prasad of the International Press Institute said:

“Criticism of the government is a healthy and necessary part of any functioning democracy, which Senegal professes to be. This colonial-era crime of insulting the head-of-state has no place in a modern democracy and should be repealed.”

Gaye denied having written certain posts, including about the alleged extramarital affair, and believes his Facebook account might have been compromised.

As reported previously on the Monitor, protests broke out in June 2019 after the airing of a BBC documentary alleging that president Sall's brother, Aliou Sall was involved in corruption in the selling of the exploitation rights to two offshore gas blocks in 2014 to the company Petro Tim.