Open letter to Mr Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal

Press release
en fr

Mister President,

The International federation for human rights (FIDH) heard with indignation that death threats were addressed on 9 December 2003 in a letter to Mgr Théodore Adrien Sarr, Archbishop of Dakar, and to all archbishops in Senegal.

Those threats, signed by a group called the «Cercle de l’Acier », are apparently a reaction to a declaration made by the Senegalese archbishops during an episcopal conference which took place in Tambacounda at the end of November 2003, in which they expressed their concerns on the political and social situation of the country.

Those threats are taken particularly seriously by the FIDH because they aim at every Senegalese citizen who expresses a divergent or critical opinion towards the authorities. Many actors of the Senegalese civil society are targeted: journalists, lawyers, opposition representatives, clergymen... The FIDH recalls that it had already condemned in August and October 2003, death threats against the journalist Abdou Latif Coulibaly and his lawyer Mr Ousmane Seye, also Vice-President of the Organisation nationale des droits de l’Homme (ONDH), member organisation of the FIDH, as well as the attack of Mr Talla Sylla, President of the Senegalese opposition party the Jëf Jël Alliance and former Vice-President of the Senegalese National Assembly (see press release of the FIDH of 1 August and 7 October 2003). To date, the light has not been shed on all those cases which caused a great emotion in the country.

Moreover, the FIDH takes note with satisfaction of your declaration of 8 January 8, in which you reminded the Senegalese attachment to freedom of expression and condemned firmly the threats uttered towards Mgr Théodore Adrien Sarr. Nevertheless, measures are now to be taken. The FDIH recalls that the right to freedom of expression , as a fundamental and constituent element of the Rule of Law, is guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ratified by Senegal.

The FIDH acknowledges as well the instructions given to the Minister of Home Affairs and to security forces in order to find the authors of this letter and to prosecute them. Not willing that those intentions stay a dead letter, the FIDH recalls that it is your duty to guarantee your citizens’ security, in accordance with Article 9 of the Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, ratified by Senegal. The FIDH urges the Senegalese authorities to efficiently shed light, as soon as possible, on this new violation of the right to freedom of expression and to prosecute them in order to take the appropriated measures against the authors, according to the international provisions on human rights.

Yours sincerely,

Sidiki Kaba

President of the FIDH

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