Senegal - Dakar newspaper editor gets three years in prison for libelling president



    MONTREAL, Sept. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders urges
President Abdoulaye Wade to quickly embark on a thorough overhaul of Senegal's
press legislation after El Malick Seck, the editor of the Dakar-based daily 24
Heures Chrono, was today sentenced to three years in prison for an article
claiming that the president was involved in money laundering.
    "This sentence reflects all the unfairness and absurdity of Senegal's law
on press offenses," Reporters Without Borders said. "The alleged libel is in
no way redressed by imposing a very severe sentence and now the government has
a political prisoner on its hands. As a result of refusing to recognise that
imprisonment is not the appropriate response in cases such as this, the
authorities must now cope with the consequences of a repressive and dangerous
system."
    The press freedom organisation advises the government to do everything
necessary to have Seck released and then quickly draw up a timetable for
reforming the press law and creating an independent media regulatory body in
consultation with representative journalists.
    Seck was convicted on charges of "activity liable to disrupt public order
and cause serious political unrest," "disseminating false news," "public
insult" and "illegal possession of government documents." His newspaper, which
had initially been allowed to resume publishing after his arrest, was
suspended by order of the court for three months.
    Seck was arrested on 28 August just hours after 24 Heures Chrono ran a
vaguely-sourced story claiming that President Wade and his son, Karim, had
been involved in the laundering of money stolen in Côte d'Ivoire.
    24 Heures Chrono was one of the two privately-owned newspapers whose
premises were attacked in mid-August by men driving a government car, who
smashed computers and sprayed tear-gas on employees.
    Twelve men were yesterday given sentences ranging from five to six years
in prison for these raids, which - some of them said - were "punitive
operations" ordered by the newly-dismissed air transport minister, Farba
Senghor.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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