Senegal : Police arrest 24 and raid tv station

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The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has strongly condemned the assault of a independent TV channel reporter, the raid against his station and the confiscation of the footage of the anti-government protest in Dakar, Senegal, Sunday.

“It is not the role of security forces to police the airwaves,” CPJ’s Executive Director Joel Simon said in a statement made available to panapress on Tuesday.

“It is unacceptable to storm stations and demand footage with no legal order to back the action. We call on the police to return the confiscated footage to Walf.”

According to the committee, Police in the Senegalese capital assaulted a Walf TV reporter, Ousmane Mangane, while he was covering the protest.

They later raided the reporter’s station and confiscated footage.

CPJ quoted Mangane as saying riot police used Tasers on him as he was attempting to interview an opposition member of parliament, Mously Diakhaté, on live television.

Police spokesman Alioune Ndiaye said 24 arrests were made on Sunday after police dispersed the demonstration, which was led by consumer advocacy groups who were protesting against price hikes in food, fuel, and other basic staples.

Two plainclothes agents from the police’s Criminal Investigation Division later went to Walf’s studios and ordered the station to hand over copies of the footage, according to Walf TV Programs Director Aïssatou Diop Fall.

Officers did not provide a reason, but said the order came from the government, Fall said.

The station’s exclusive live coverage of clashes between police and demonstrators protesting rises in consumer prices was unprecedented in Senegal, according to local journalists.

CPJ said the president of Senegal’s official broadcast media regulator (the National Council of Broadcasting Regulation (known by its French acronym, CNRA), Nancy Ndiaye Ngom, declined to comment on the matter via telephone.

Ngom, a magistrate by trade, heads a nine-member board of presidential appointees mandated to regulate broadcasting, according to the CPJ.

Walf TV, part of the Walf media group which publishes leading independent newspaper Wal Fadjri, is one of four private television channels in Senegal.

Program Director Fall said the raid would not deter the station from future live coverage. Panapress.

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