Dakar, July 6, 2022 — Senegalese authorities are set to investigate a call by Talla Sylla, a member of the youth wing of the ruling Alliance for the Republic (APR) party, to burn down the private media company Walfadjri and attack its journalists, ensure the safety of journalists and the media, and allow the press to operate freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Wednesday.
Sylla, a member of Cojer (Convergence of Young Republicans), called for arson and attacks on Walfadjri journalists during a June 21 Facebook live interview published by a private news site Xibar24, according to CPJ’s review of the video. Walfadjri shares offices and journalists with Walf TV, one of its subsidiaries, and its radio stations, daily newspaper and website.
In the video, Sylla expressed his displeasure with Walf TV’s critical reporting on Senegalese President Macky Sall, although he did not cite a specific report, and added, “In other countries, they would have burned Walfadjri. Walfadjri must be burned. We need an attack on Walfadjri journalists to end this television,” according to the CPJ review.
“Senegalese authorities should investigate Talla Sylla, a member of the ruling APR party, for her public call to attack and burn down the Walfadjri media company, and ensure the safety of Walfadjri staff and journalists,” said Angela Quintal, coordinator of CPJ’s Africa Program, in Durban, South Africa. . “When a member of Senegal’s ruling party advocates violence against journalists, it sends a chilling message that such violence is acceptable to the government.
On July 1, Sylla called Walf TV director Moustapha Diop and apologized for the remarks in the video, pointing out that the animosity was aimed at the management of Walfadjri society at large and not Walf TV staff. in particular, Diop told CPJ by phone. CPJ called Sylla and Seydou Guèye, a spokesman for Cojer and the ruling APR party, but Sylla’s line was not connected and Guèye did not answer.
Diop and Bamba Kassé, the general secretary of the Senegalese journalists’ union (SYNPICS), are working to file a joint complaint against Sylla, they told CPJ by phone. On July 4, a bailiff was ordered to serve Sylla with a direct subpoena, as is required before the complaint could be filed with a prosecutor, but the bailiff was unable to reach Sylla, Sylla said. Diop at CPJ.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, SYNPICS called Sylla’s remarks a “threat to the entire Senegalese press”.