Senegal: Torture: the Casamance case

April 30, 1990

Senegal: Torture: the Casamance case

be detained (gardés à vue) for a maximum of four days before being referred to the Procuracy, where their case may be investigated further by an examining magistrate (juge d'instruction). However, in cases involving suspected offences against the security of the state, the Code of Penal Procedure provides for this initial period of detention to be extended to a maximum of eight days. This provision has generally been invoked in the case of suspected MFDC supporters, who have consequently been detained for up to eight days incommunicado without being seen by relatives, lawyers or even a representative of the Procuracy. It is during this period, according to Amnesty International's information, that most cases of torture occur.

There is an impressive number of accounts from different sources regarding beatings inflicted for several days on end, both at the time of arrest and on police or gendarmerie premises in Ziguinchor - the administrative capital of Casamance at the time - or in Bignona or during transfer by boat to Dakar. It appears that this treatment was inflicted almost indiscriminately, with no regard for age or sex. According to accounts received by Amnesty International, this ill-treatment took the form of particularly brutal blows with batons, leaving indelible marks, by the use of torture in the form of electric shocks under the nails or to the genital organs, by pouring petrol into suspects' private parts (both men and women), by prolonged deprivation of food and a total absence of medical care for sick or injured prisoners and by the humiliation of elderly people.

It appears that many people have died in suspicious circumstances during periods of detention; others have died during or after their transfer to Dakar while on remand. The large number of deaths occurring just after suspects' arrest is a matter of concern to Amnesty International. Chapter 3 below sets out particulars of these deaths.

Amnesty International has received a variety of testimonies from people arrested in Casamance on suspicion of involvement with the MFDC who claim to have been beaten or tortured. While it is not possible to cross-check every detail contained in the testimonies, they are nevertheless consistent in many of the details described.

A prisoner who was arrested in June 1984 has given the following testimony:
"I am married, I have two wives and four children. I was accused of concealing my father, who had been sent a summons. I replied 'No'. They accused me of having carried provisions to people hiding in the forest. I replied 'No'. They parted my buttocks and poured in petrol. They then called in my wife to show her the effect of the petrol in my anus. They hit one of my wives, who was three months pregnant. Afterwards they took her to a classroom to rape her, and came and told me afterwards. They arrested my two children aged three and two and exposed them to the sun while refusing them their mother's help. They slapped my mother, who is very old."

The following testimony taken by Amnesty International illustrates the forms of torture inflicted upon political detainees in Casamance. The person who gave the information to Amnesty International was arrested in pg; late 1986 in Bignona by gendarmes and accused of being involved in separatist activities.