Accompanied by the Coordination des Associations de la Presse (CAP) of Senegal, the head of Reporters Without Borders went to visit the investigative journalist on Thursday 1 December 2022. His statement:
“Together with our friends and colleagues in the coordination of press associations, we visited journalist Pape Alé Niang. He is combative, he has a state of mind and it was impressive to see an investigative journalist in a prison like this. It is quite disastrous for Senegal that a journalist is now in detention. I remember that Senegalese President Macky Sall, when he took office, made a commitment that during the exercise of his mandate power no journalist would be detained. This is a commitment he also made to me when in Paris, where the Paris Forum for the Press on November 11, 2018, I remember, very well, he was there with heads of state and governments to launch the partnership on information and democracy, Senegal was one of those first states and it renewed that commitment and that commitment is not a small commitment and there is an obvious and extremely regrettable breach of that commitment and we solemnly call on it today to put an end as soon as possible to this breach of his own commitment and a commitment that is important to him and that is even more important for Senegal. Senegal must be an example. Senegal is an important country in the sub-region. It is a country where, depending on what happens there, there can be effects in other countries and negative effects that can have on press freedom and democracy in the countries of the region.
His colleagues, brothers and sisters in Senegal fought for him. If this situation were to continue, we would amplify our actions and strengthen them at the international level. It is better in every respect that it be put to an end as soon as possible because otherwise there is an obvious risk for the image of Senegal, a responsibility of the President to the Senegalese and then it also goes from his legacy to history.
I would like to point out that Pape Alé Niang is an investigative journalist. Yes! He’s a journalist, contrary to what some say, otherwise we wouldn’t all be here if we didn’t consider him a journalist. We wouldn’t have come to visit him in prison and we wouldn’t be there defending him. And yes! Investigative journalists sometimes come out of confidential documents. An investigative journalist is not someone from the administration, someone who works for the police, it is someone who must make the truth known. Sometimes truths that the power may want to keep quiet. I was an investigative journalist, I pulled out hundreds of documents, they were classified and I never did one day in a police station or a prison and it would be normal for it to be the same in Senegal.
What we are asking very clearly is that journalist Pape Alé Niang be released immediately in the hours that come unconditionally. Of course, this procedure should be put to an end, a procedure which does not correspond to the principles of freedom of the press.
We believe that the government must ensure that he is freed and without having to use any means to exert pressure. The government must be aware of the impact in terms of the image it has on the Senegalese authorities, on Senegal, and of the fact that if this situation were to continue, we would ensure that there is greater international mobilization.
As Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders, I would like to add that we have created our West African office in Dakar. We have decided to extend the scope of this office to all sub-Saharan Africa so that Reporters Without Borders’ activities can be opened from Dakar and we would not want such situations to lead us to believe that it is a mistake to believe in the freedom of the press in Senegal.”