Safety resources for covering protests in Senegal

As Senegalese security forces sought to quell protests in February after the postponement of the presidential election, CPJ documented how at least 25 journalists reporting in the capital, Dakar, were physically attacked, briefly detained, targeted with tear gas, or harassed by police. In response, CPJ has assembled recommendations for journalists working in Senegal, including how to prepare…

As Senegalese security forces sought to quell protests in February after the postponement of the presidential election, CPJ documented how at least 25 journalists reporting in the capital, Dakar, were physically attacked, briefly detained, targeted with tear gas, or harassed by police.

In response, CPJ has assembled recommendations for journalists working in Senegal, including how to prepare for and respond to tear gas, internet shutdowns, and arrest or detention.

  • Communication
Set up a regular check-in procedure with your office, family, and/or friends.

In case of injury or arrest, put in place emergency protocols, including details of who to call for assistance (e.g., a legal representative).

Use end-to-end encrypted messaging apps such as Signal or WhatsApp. Consider setting up disappearing messages if needed. 

Make a plan for how to contact others in case of a communications blackout.
  • Device security

If possible, leave your main phone behind; instead, take a spare device.

Carry only essential information on the phone you bring with you; for example, your editor's phone number.

If taking your main phone:
Back up your device.
Remove all personal or sensitive data.
Log out of all unnecessary apps and services.

Encrypt phones and laptops, and research laws around encryption where you are working.
  • Arrest and detention
If you are arrested or detained, your devices may be confiscated and searched. Better protect yourself by:

Backing up and regularly removing information from your devices and storing it on an external drive or in a cloud account not linked to your device. 

Encrypting devices where possible and secure with a long password or pincode.

Restricting access to your accounts by logging out of them and regularly clearing your browsing history. Limit the number of applications on your devices.
  • Arrest and detention

If you are at risk of being arrested:

Always ensure you have the correct and valid documents with you (e.g., press credentials, driver’s license, passport, visa).

Take the minimum amount of equipment necessary to help prevent equipment losses.

Identify a legal representative who can be contacted if you are arrested. Store their name and contact number on your phone, on a piece of paper, and/or written on your arm.

Set up a regular check-in procedure with your office, family, and/or friends, including establishing a regular check-in schedule, a plan in case you are overdue for checking in, and what time you expect to return.

Always stay calm and be respectful. If wearing a hat and/or sunglasses, take them off. Maintain eye contact with the officer if possible, and don’t resist.

Find CPJ’s protest resources here.

If you would like to speak with someone about threats you are facing or concerned about, please email emergencies@cpj.org. If you are a journalist looking for safety information, you can also message CPJ’s automated chatbot on WhatsApp at +1 206 590 6191.


This content originally appeared on Committee to Protect Journalists and was authored by Committee to Protect Journalists.

This post was originally published on Radio Free.


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