15 April 2011

Alert

Another heavy fine and suspended jail sentence for investigative journalist


Incident details

Fine, Sentencing

Abdou Latif Coulibaly, Editor

This is available in:

English Français
(RSF/IFEX) - On 14 April 2011, a Dakar court handed down a three-month suspended jail sentence to Abdou Latif Coulibaly, editor of the weekly "La Gazette", and fined him 10 million CFA francs (15,267 euros) for allegedly defaming a Senegalese businessman close to President Abdoulaye Wade by accusing him of acting fraudulently in his dealings with the government.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the way the Senegalese authorities and several leading figures close to the government are hounding Coulibaly, one of Dakar's most respected journalists. The lawsuits that continue to be brought against him constitute an unacceptable form of harassment, and the suspended prison sentences place him under a permanent threat that is liable to discourage his investigative reporting.

This latest conviction serves as yet another reminder of the need to decriminalize press offences in Senegal. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to stop imposing prison sentences, even suspended ones, on journalists. Jail terms are archaic and disproportionate and are never an appropriate response to defamation.

President Wade has in principle given the go-ahead for a reform of Senegal's press law that would replace prison sentences by fines but the office of the National Assembly has sat on it for about eight months. This foot-dragging reflects a lack of political will.

In the 14 April case, Coulibaly was sued by Abbas Jaber, the owner of the peanut-oil processing company Suneor, over articles in two issues of "La Gazette" in May 2010. Describing him as a personal friend of the president, the first article claimed that the government had granted Jaber a "subsidy of 6 billion CFA francs" and had imposed a 25 per cent temporary import tax in order to protect his interests.

In the second issue, Coulibaly accused Jaber of "violating his contractual obligations with the Senegalese state." In a front-page article headlined "Suneor makes off with 16 billion in sale of land" and accompanied by a photo of Jaber, Coulibaly claimed that Jaber had sold "80 per cent of Suneor's land for 165 billion although he was contractually bound not to sell it before 2012."

Coulibaly is clearly being singled out by the Senegalese justice system. In November 2010, he was fined 20 million CFA francs (30,000 euros) and given a one-month suspended sentence in a libel action brought by a presidential adviser.

Source:

Putting free expression issues in perspective.

Sign up to receive IFEX In Context.

From other IFEX members

Editor convicted in defamation case (CPJ)
Senegal
 
More from Senegal
  • Freedom of the Press 2016: Senegal

    In July, three newspaper publishers and one reporter were detained and questioned about their sources for three separate stories.

  • Freedom of the Press 2015: Senegal

    Ranked 93rd in annual global media freedom report

  • Freedom of the Press 2014: Senegal

    Ranked 95th in annual global media freedom report


At this point, would publish cover: "Home page"
 
IFEX is a global network of committed organisations working to defend and promote free expression.
Permission is granted for material on this website to be reproduced or republished in whole or in part provided the source member and/or IFEX is cited with a link to the original item.