Senegal, like other countries in the world, celebrated World Press Freedom Day yesterday. « Restrictions on freedom of expression: what balance between national security and the right to information » is the theme chosen this year by the Coordination of Press Associations (Cap), which is also calling for the release of journalist Pape Ndiaye and the discontinuation of the proceedings against Babacar Touré and Pape Alé Niang, charged, among other things, with spreading false news.
World Press Freedom Day, celebrated on May 3 each year, is celebrated this year in a context of tensions with the deterioration of Senegal’s ranking at the level of Reporters Without Borders. “Restrictions on freedom of expression: what balance between national security and the right to information” is the theme chosen this year by the Coordination of Press Associations (Cap) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the proclamation of this day.
Moderator of this ceremony, the former journalist of the Senegalese broadcaster (Rts), Minielle Baro stated that when we speak of freedom of the press, « it is a fundamental freedom ». And for his part, Matar Sylla, former Director General of the Rts, today, the question of the viability of press companies must be asked. He believes that the press is a viable economic sector and we must therefore get out of the logic of sanctioning. He calls for a media conference. « We must put order in the profession, » said Mr. Sylla.
For his part, Colonel Antoine Wardini, former Director of Information and Public Relations of the Army (Dirpa), speaking on the subject, indicated that freedom of the press does not mean, say what you want . For him, the journalist must be credible and inform accurately.
« I am not asking journalists to socialize with the Army or government institutions, but I ask them to understand how the institutions work and the risks that a journalist may face when they publish things of which they do not have proof », admits the former member of the Dirpa, refusing the name of the Army: « La Grande muette. » He invited the media to find a balance between national security and the right to information, but also encouraged Cored and Cap to find a model of collaboration, if only for the training of journalists. « You are not prevented from speaking, because you are there to inform, and the public needs to be informed, but there is a way to do it, » he said.
However, in celebrating the day the Coordination of Press Associations (Cap)took the opportunity to demand for the release of journalist Pape Ndiaye from Walfadjri and the cessation of the proceedings against Babacar Touré from Kewelo and journalist Pape Alé Niang. « Given this tense and threatening event for all journalists, we at Cap demand the release of our colleague Pape Ndiaye and the discontinuation of the proceedings against Babacar Touré and Pape Alé Niang », declared Maguette Ndong, spokesperson for the Syndicat des information and communication professionals du Senegal (Synpics), calling on the authorities to protect the physical integrity of media professionals.
The Cap also called for the application of the new texts which govern the profession, in particular the new collective agreement, access to information with an inclusive involvement of media players. Yesterday, President Sall announced the full application of the Press Code so desired by journalists.
By Ousmane SOW
- Translation by Ndey T. SOSSEH