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Senegal: Prominent activist languishing in jail must be released

March 2, 2020

DAKAR, Senegal, March 2, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Authorities in Senegal must immediately release Guy Marius Sagna, a prominent activist who is entering his fourth month in detention for peacefully protesting high electricity prices, Amnesty International said today.

Guy Marius Sagna, the coordinator of the Front for a Popular Anti-Imperialist Revolution and Pan African (FRAAP), has spent three months in a high security prison in Dakar. Since then 1,233 letters and petitions have been sent from around Senegal calling for his release.

“Today, Guy Marius Sagna has spent 90 days behind bars in a high security prison. He is being treated like a dangerous criminal simply for exercising his freedom of peaceful assembly,” said Seydi Gassama, Amnesty International Senegal Director.

“More than a thousand people have sent letters calling for his release. If President Macky Sall and his government want to prove that they are committed to respecting and protecting human rights, they should release Guy Marius Sagna immediately and without conditions.”

On 29 November 2019 Sagna took part in a peaceful protest in Dakar’s city center. He was arrested in front of the gates of the Presidential palace with eight other activists. The eight were charged with ‘’participation in an unauthorized gathering’’ but were released on bail between 4 December 2019 and 21 January 2020.

Sagna was charged with ‘’inciting an unauthorized gathering and rebellion’’ and the authorities have three times rejected his lawyer’s requests for bail. Amnesty International was able to visit him in prison and so did his family members, but there are restrictions for many of his friends.

In a letter published on 29 January on social media, Sagna said: “I am in prison in a high security unit reserved for terrorists… In two months, I have only received seven visitors.”

Amnesty International calls on authorities to ensure that, pending Guy Marius Sagna’s release, he has access to visits by his friends.

“Authorities should immediately drop the charges against all nine activists and stop prosecuting individuals simply for exercising their right to peaceful assembly,” said Seydi Gassama.

“They must also repeal the 2011 Decree banning all peaceful demonstrations in a large area of the city center of Dakar”.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Amnesty International.

Background

On 26 November 2019, Senelec, the national company of electricity announced an increase in the price of electricity for customers. 

Civil society and pro-democracy movements made of five organisations, “Les Forces Démocratiques du Sénégal” ,“les Gilets Rouges”, “Sénégal Notre Priorité”, “Nittu Dëgg” and the Front for a Popular Anti-Imperialist Revolution and Pan-African (FRAAP), decided to protest the decision through a rally from the “Place of the Nation” to the main entrance of the presidential palace in Dakar to hand a letter to President Macky Sall.

On 29 November 2019, the Prefect of Dakar requested from the organizers to change the itinerary, suggesting a new one which they have refused. 

In 2011, the Minister of Interior took an order imposing blanket bans on demonstrations in parts of the city centre of Dakar.

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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