Gambia: "Respect the right, dignity of journalists", MFWA tells Mauritanian Police

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - The sub-regional rights body, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), has expressed concern over the harassment of journalists by the police in Mauritania, PANA reported on Saturday.

In a statement obtained by PANA in Banjul, the press freedom watchdog revealed that the Mauritanian police had arrested and interrogated four senior journalists in connection with what it termed “trans-border crimes”.

The journalists involved are Moussa Samba Sy and Jedna Deida, directors of publication of the daily Quotidien de Nouakchott, and the online news portal Mauriweb, as well as Babacar Baye Ndiaye, webmaster of and Rella Bâ, also of Cridem, an online journal.

"The MFWA is concerned about the reported harassment of the journalists involved. We call on the police in Mauritania to follow due process and respect the right and dignity of the journalists involved," the statement noted.

All the media outlets are private and very critical of the government in Nouakchott.

According to MFWA, the four journalists were subjected to humiliating and intimidating interrogations by the police on 25 August, 2017, in separate incidents.

The police were said to have stormed the offices of Quoditien de Nouakchott and interrogated Moussa Samba Sy before taking him away for further questioning at their station.

It was a similar ordeal for Boubabacar Bay N’Diaye and Rella Bâ of Cridem, who were fetched from their offices and subjected to several hours of interrogation at the headquarters of the police.

In response to accusations that they are on a witch-hunt mission against journalists and media outlets that are critical of the government, the police said the arrests have no link to the editorial leanings of the media involved.

“The Police Commissioner of the Criminal Division has assured me that the journalists involved have neither been arrested nor accused; but were only questioned because their names came up in a matter that is under investigation,” the President of Mauritania’s journalists union, Mohamed Ould Dah, was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, MFWA indicated that the arrest had been condemned by a large section of the Mauritanian society as an attempt to intimidate journalists and stifle critical voices.

In a communiqué issued on 26 August, Institution de Opposition Démocratique, a political opposition group, said “the regime is deliberately using the police and the judiciary to level false charges and conspiracies like “trans-border crimes” in order to silence any voice that speaks against its tyranny.”
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 9Sept2017

09 september 2017 16:09:01

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