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Senegal16 April 2002

Publication director sentenced to four months’ imprisonment for defamation

In a letter to Justice Minister Basile Senghor, RSF expressed concern following the sentencing of Mamadou Oumar Ndiaye, publication director of the Dakar-based weekly "Le Témoin". "While not wishing to comment on the facts of the case, RSF recalls that a prison sentence with no parole for ’defamation’ is viewed by international human rights bodies as ’disproportionate’ to the harm suffered by the victim," stated Robert Ménard, the organisation’s secretary-general. The organisation underlined that United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression Abid Hussain considers that "imprisonment as punishment for the peaceful expression of an opinion constitutes a serious human rights violation."

According to information collected by RSF, the Dakar Regional Tribunal sentenced Ndiaye to four months’ imprisonment with no parole and fined him two million CFA francs (approx. US$2,740; 3,050 euros) for defamation. Victor Cabrita, director of the Sainte Marie de Hann Catholic school, had filed a complaint following the publication of an article in September 2001 which found fault with the administration of the school. Cabrita was notably accused of misappropriating funds. Ndiaye’s lawyers plan to appeal the decision.

RSF also recalled that Prime Minister Mame Madior Boye has taken legal action against journalists Ousseynou Nar Guèye and Cheikh Touré Guèye, publication director and computer graphics technician with the daily "Le Tract", respectively, for "insults to a member of the government" and "distribution of false news through the use of false or fabricated documents". The newspaper’s 1 August edition featured a front-page photomontage of Madior Boye in a swimsuit.

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