Senegal | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Senegal

Senegal

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

37

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

15

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

12

Senegal's constitution guarantees freedom of expression. However, Article 80 of the penal code provides for three-to-five-year prison sentences for acts that compromise public security, and journalists are still jailed and harassed because of what they report, despite President Abdoulaye Wade's continued promises to decriminalize several press offenses and repeal Article 80. In July, Madiambal Diagne, editor of the private daily Le Quotidien, was detained for two weeks and charged with publishing confidential documents and compromising public security. Journalists and press freedom organizations protested Diagne's arrest and staged a one-day news blackout as well as a series of protests in the capital. Despite his provisional release, Diagne faces criminal charges and could serve time in jail. Libel is a criminal offense, and until recently it was a rarely used statute. However, in January, French journalist Christian Costeaux, who ran a Web site about tourism in Senegal, was sentenced in absentia to one year's imprisonment for libeling a mayor and two local hotel owners in an article alleging there was organized crime in their city. The recent spate of intimidation against journalists has led press freedom organizations to express frequent concern about media freedom. President Wade again promised to decriminalize press offenses, urging journalists to submit reform proposals in October. However, by year's end no legislation had been introduced. 

 Senegal has many private, independent publications and a string of private and community radios. Nevertheless, the Wade administration refuses to accept private participation in television except for entertainment channels. The state owns and controls the only national television station, which broadcasts generally favorable coverage of the government. In July, Senegal's media watchdog, the High Audiovisual Council, criticized the government-run television station for not reflecting diverse viewpoints and not allowing equal coverage of opposition members and religious groups. Foreign satellite television and radio stations are available. Radio France Internationale, which had closed its Senegalese office in October 2003 to protest the government expulsion of reporter Sophie Malibeaux, resumed broadcasting in August 2004.