Perilous Times for Freedom of Expression in Senegal

Death Threats Made Against Journalist

Press release
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The FIDH expresses its deep indignation and firmly condemns the death threats received by Senegalese journalist Abdou Latif Coulibaly since the publication of his book which criticitizes the methods of President Abdoulaye Wade’s administration.

Adbou Latif Coulibaly is a top reporter for the newspaper Sud Quotidien, as well as Chairman of the Institut des sciences de l’information et de la communication (ISSIC) and of sud FM, the leading independent radio station in Senegal. He is also the author of the book published in July 2003 entitled "Wade, un opposant au pouvoir : l’alternance piégée?", in which he makes an unconciliatory analysis of the management of power by President Wade, who was elected three years ago.

The controversial revelations about the political management of party rotation have been the subject of debates since the publication of the book, both in the Senegalese press and amongst the political class. The President personnally responded to the accusations made against him by publicly declaring that he "trusted his fellow citizens’ judgement in the matter." This sibyilline announcement unfortunately lead certain "fellow citizens" to make anonymous death threats against a journalist.

Mr. Coulibaly and his lawyer filed charges against X with the Prosecutor of the Republic on 31 July 2003 for "insults and death threats" and requested the State’s protection for him and his family.

The FIDH firmly condemns the authors of the threats and requests that the government authorities enforce the safety and the physical and moral integrity of Abdou Latif Coulibaly and his family, according to Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The FIDH recalls that a country governed by the rule of law, that claims to respect democratic principles and fundamental liberties cannot, under any circumstances, limit the freedom of expression, as stated under Article 19 of the Covenant and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

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