This statement was originally published on mfwa.org on 15 April 2019.
Eight people were killed in a series of brutal crackdowns on demonstrators in four countries in West Africa where a total of 152 freedom expression violations were recorded in 2018.
Four demonstrators were killed in Guinea, two in Togo with The Gambia and Senegal recording one fatality each.
The fatal crackdowns demonstrate a growing intolerance of public demonstrations on the part of governments and betray serious gaps in police public order procedures. Security forces in general and the police, in particular, were also responsible for 55% for the 152 violations recorded over the period.
At the country level, Nigeria recorded 21 violations to lead the pack of 15 countries in which violations were reported, according to the 2018 West Africa Freedom of Expression Monitor.
Ghana and Guinea followed with 18 violations each, while Senegal, traditionally media friendly and respectful of freedom of expression, followed with 15 violations largely linked to the stormy electioneering campaigns.
A total of 286 victims made up of individuals and media organisations were affected by the 152 violations. The trend showed that the main targets of the violations were outspoken citizens, particularly anti-government demonstrators, journalists and other media workers like technicians. 160 people, representing almost 56% of the victims, were citizens, followed by 92 journalist victims representing 32%.
Click here to access the full the 2018 West Africa Freedom of Expression Monitor.