In solidarity with Senegalese journalists

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Off recent press freedom is facing new threats in major democracies as well as in repressive states, where authorities are focusing their efforts on social media and other online platforms after subduing the independence of major print and broadcast outlets.

The role of the media in providing credible information, of giving voice to the people and holding those in power to account is fundamental to the realisation of our freedom and human rights. Whilst there are differences of opinion about whether the media are part of civil society, what is undisputed is the key role that they play in social and economic development, democracy, human rights and the pursuit of justice.

We wish to rally in solidarity with our colleagues in Senegal, after weeks putting their lives to task in what is believed to be hard fought campaign in Senegal, they are now been threatened  without no genuine reason. This is to say their heroic efforts of updating the nation for the past week should go unnoticed?

What is puzzling here is the blame put on the some respectable media outlets in Senegal including the State-Owned (RTS) for just announcing the provisional results.

Immediately, after provisional results were announced by the Prime Minister Mohammad Boune Abdalla Dione on Sunday, with incumbent Macky Sall winning more than half of the total votes casted - 57%, the main opposition camps (Ousman Sonko and Idrissa Seck) started blaming the media for announcing the provisional results. This move is in line with electoral laws in Senegal that permits the media to report provisional results on spot counting of the presidential election. These laws have been in place since 2000.

They went further to threaten journalists of the State-owned TV (RTS) Group Futur Media and 2Stv. Though, Prime Minister Dione said the two camps should not threaten journalists for just doing their work by updating the public.

This reminds us about the power media and despite, arrests and intimidation against journalists in a growing number of countries, their work can still expose corrupt practices and keep the society well-informed.

In dictatorships and democracies alike, courageous journalists have defied powerful interests to bring stories to the public, enabling their audiences to take action and bring about real change.

Given the challenges we face on the continent, there is need to increase our efforts to protect those that give us voice and help us realise the full scope of our rights.

“A people cannot exist if there is no social solidarity.”

Ariel Sharon