Senegal - Police rough up journalists covering banned protest and stop TV station from broadcasting footage



    MONTREAL, March 31 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders condemns
police use of violence against journalists covering a banned street march
against cost of living increases in Dakar yesterday afternoon, and a police
raid yesterday evening on a TV station that was broadcasting footage showing
how police broke up the protest.
    "The security forces behaved in a manner unworthy of Senegalese
democracy," the press freedom organisation said. "Erasing pictures of clashes
and preventing them being shown on TV is not an effective way of keeping
order. Instead of flexing its muscles and pushing the opposition into more
radical positions, the government would do better to ensure that the public is
freely informed of what is happening in the capital."
    The protest against hikes in the price of basic staples, organised by the
Association of Senegalese Consumers (ASCOSEN), was dispersed violently by the
police force's Mobile Intervention Group (GMI) at around 4 pm. Backed by
several opposition politicians, the march had been banned by the prefect of
Dakar.
    Several journalists were physically attacked by police as the march was
being dispersed. An electric baton was used on Ousmane Mangane of the
privately-owned daily Walf Fadjri when he approached a parliamentarian being
manhandled by policemen. Serigne Diagne of the news website Senactu was forced
to delete photos he had taken of the clashes. Macoumba Mbodj of
privately-owned Radio Futur Média (RFM) was manhandled and his press ID was
torn up. The TV camera of a reporter with privately owned Canal Info was
dashed to the ground.
    At around 7 pm, members of the Criminal Investigation Division raided
privately-owned Walf TV as it was broadcasting footage of the dispersal of the
protest, ordered staff to suspend the broadcast and demanded the original
footage. "We gave them the videotapes after notifying the head of the
company," Walf TV journalist Aissatou Diop Fall said.




For further information:

For further information: Hélène Fargues, Reporters Without Borders
Canada, (514) 521-4111

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