Freedom of Expression Stifled in Senegal

A Leader of the Opposition is Attacked

07/10/2003
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The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is deeply concerned to learn about the attack made on Mr. Talla Sylla, which it condemns most vigorously. Mr. Sylla, President of the Senegalese opposition party Alliance Jëf Jël and the former Vice-President of Senegal’s National Assembly, was hospitalized on 5 October 2003, after receving injuries from 4 attackers with hammers. He is suffering specifically from pulmonary contusion and skull fractures.

Several weeks earlier, Mr. Sylla had requested that President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade be turned over to the Haute Cour de Justice, after the revelations of journalist Abdou Latif Coulibaly. Mr. Coulibaly published a book in July 2003, in which he criticized President Wade’s financial and political management of the country. Mr. Sylla had furthermore distributed a musical cassette, on which he sharply criticized President Wade.

The FIDH recalls that, on 1 August 2003, following death threats made against Mr. Coulibaly, it condemned restrictions on freedom of expression in Senegal. The FIDH strongly condemns this attack, which is yet another violation of the freedom of expression, as stated under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The FIDH requests that the Senegalese authorities:
- Shed light on this attack and go to law in order to file the appropriate charges against these perpetrators, according to the international provisions on human rights.
- Ensure the security of person, as stated under Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Senegal;
- Effectively guarantee the freedom of expression, according to the international instruments ratified by Senegal.

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