Protests against increase in electricity prices: several activists arrested

Association & Peaceful Assembly

Arrest of activists in the context of protests against the increase in electricity prices

On 29th November 2019, nine activists of the movement Noo Lank (We refuse) were arrested during a protest in front of the gates of the Palace of the Republic against an increase in electricity prices (see under Peaceful Assembly) and were later charged with ‘participation in an unauthorised gathering’. Guy Marius Sagna, of FRAPP – France Dégage (Front for a Popular Anti-Imperialist Revolution and Pan African) was additionally charged with ‘provocation of gathering’ and ‘rebellion’.

The nine activists arrested are: Guy Marius Sagna, Mamadou Diao Diallo, Malick Biaye, Pape Abdoulaye Touré, Babacar Diop, Souleymane Diockou, Ousmane Sarr, Souleymane Ndjim and Fallou Galass.

Souleymane Ndjim was released on bail on 3rd December 2019, Babacar Diop and four others on 20th December 2019 and Ousmane Sarr and Fallou Galass on 21st January 2020. Guy Marius Sagna was only released on bail on 3rd March 2020, after spending more than three months in detention.

The arrest, detention and prosecution of the nine activists was denounced by national, regional and international civil society, including by the Senegalese Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COSEDDH) and the West African Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN-ROADDH). 

Environmental activist arrested over Facebook post

Environmental activist Oudy Diallo was arrested on 22nd November 2019 in Kédougou following a complaint of defamation of the territorial administration. The source of the complaint was a Facebook post by Diallo in which he commented on the land quotas granted to administrative authorities. According to Amnesty International, Diallo received a suspended two-month sentence and was released on 2nd December 2019. 

Peaceful Assembly

Several protests took place in Senegal against an increase of six to ten percent in electricity prices. Nine activists were arrested during the first protest, organised by the movement Noo Lank (‘We refuse’ in Wolof) on 29th November 2019 (see under Association) for ‘participation in an unauthorised gathering’. Several organisations, including FRAPP, said in a statement that the organisers had informed local authorities of the planned protest, but that the protest was banned on the grounds of a 2011 ordinance that bans protests from taking place in the city centre of Dakar.

More than 30 civil society organisations called citizens to mobilise for a protest on 13th December 2019 against the increased electricity prices and to demand the liberation of the activists arrested in the previous protest, which gathered hundreds of people carrying placards with diverse slogans such as ‘Free Guy Marius Sagna and Babacar Diop’ and ‘Senegal is going badly’. Fresh protests were organised on 20th December 2019 at the Place de l’Indépendance in Dakar. The prefect of Dakar previously banned all protests, including those organised by the Noo Lank movement and counter-protests, on that day using grounds of ‘disturbance of public order’. According to news reports, security forces occupied the main arteries of the city centre, and reportedly arrested 38 people who were trying to protest, who were released later that night. Journalists reportedly figured among those arrested, and were dispersed by tear gas at the Place de l’Indépendance while trying to do their job, damaging the equipment of some journalists.

Other protests took place in Dakar and other cities in Senegal on 10th January 2020 and 31st January 2020 organised by the movement Noo Lank. The protest on 31st January 2020, which set off from the Cheikh Anta Diop University, was authorised by the prefect of Dakar, but excluded ‘any outbreak likely to disrupt traffic’.

On 28th February 2020, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Criminal Camp Liberté 6 in Dakar where Guy Marius Sagna was held in detention, to demand the release of the activist. Sagna was released on bail on 3rd March 2020 (see under Association).

Expression

On 12th December 2019, a court in Dakar reportedly sentenced journalist and owner of the newspaper Le Quotidien Madiambal Diagne to a suspended prison sentence of three months and a fine of 100,000 CFA francs (180 USD) for defamation of former Prime Minister Abdou Mbaye. The latter submitted a complaint following the publication, on 19th July 2018, of Diagne’s column ‘Les Lundis de Mandiambal’in the newspaper Le Quotidien saying that Mbaye was in ‘need of a psychiatrist’ and claiming that Mbaye lied and received billions of CFA francs from former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré. Additionally, Diagne and editor of the newspaper Mohamed Guèye were ordered to pay a million CFA francs (1,800 USD) in damages to the former minister and to remove the incriminating paragraphs from the newspaper’s website.