Senegal: Torture: the Casamance case

April 30, 1990

Senegal: Torture: the Casamance case

* During the Amnesty International mission to Senegal in October
1989, the delegates learned that an autopsy was carried out
several days after the body was buried.

4. Youssouf Badji. Aged 54, a fisherman, living in Niafoulène. The
order placing him in custody was dated 11 February 1985. The
certification drawn up on 8 March 1985 did not show the date of
hospitalisation, and gave the date of death as 7 March 1985, i.e.
three weeks after detention. The official causes of death are as
follows: "Natural death due to liver disease, the nature of which
is to be determined by histological examination". To the best of
Amnesty International's knowledge, this examination has not been
carried out.

Three other people - Malamine Badji, Alhadji Keba Sané and Lang Diédhiou - died in prison in 1987 under suspicious circumstances. No investigation has been ordered, to the best of Amnesty International's knowledge, to determine the cause of their death.

From April 1984 to February 1988, a list of six people who died after leaving prison has been brought to Amnesty International's attention; their families state that the deaths were the results of torture and ill-treatment.

4. The Government's Response to Reports of Torture

Government officials have responded in various ways to evidence of torture and to the possibility that torture might take place. In general, however, the authorities have been unwilling to order inquiries into reports of torture (possibly on the grounds that this would imply that the reports might be true). However, the 1984 United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which came into force in 1987 and to which Senegal has been a party since 1985, places a clear obligation on the authorities to carry out an investigation whenever there are "reasonable grounds" to suspect that torture may have occurred, independently of any complaint lodged by the victim or in his/her name.

Its article 12 states:

"Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its juridisction."

In October 1988 the Senegalese Government presented its initial report about the implementation of the United Nations Convention in Senegal to the Special Committee against Torture set up under the terms of the Convention. The five-page report emphasised that torture is a criminal act in Senegal, punishable by law. However, it gave little attention to the ways in which torture could be prevented by amending detention procedures, and omitted all reference to the allegations of torture which had taken place between 1985 and 1988. This report has not yet been examined by the Committee against Torture.* ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) * Since this memorandum was prepared, the government has submitted a supplementary report to the Committee against Torture (UN doc. CAT/C/5/Add 19).

In addition to the 1987 prosecutions of police officers for beating a detainee to death, other evidence that the authorities were aware that prisoners were being tortured or ill-treated in police custody is found in a confidential prison service memorandum dated 1 March 1985 (No. 000932/DPP/OCS) to prison governors, testifying to the intensive use of torture on gendarmerie and police premises.
"For some time now, prisoners have been arriving in our establishments bearing injuries inflicted by the officers who arrested them. Some prisoners, moreover, even die in our cells, thus increasing the number of deaths, to our detriment. These situations risk discrediting us and hampering our efforts to humanise and improve the prisoner's living conditions in the prison environment...."