Senegal: Torture: the Casamance case

April 30, 1990

Senegal: Torture: the Casamance case

"I was arrested by the gendarmerie a few days after giving food to a villager who had evaded arrest when a campaign of repression began in November 1986, in Casamance. My only 'crime' was to provide a little food for humanitarian reasons to a man who was very hungry and who was hiding in a forest nearby. I was beaten at the time of my arrest and before the gendarmes started to interrogate me. They asked me to confess to being an MFDC member and to denounce other people who, they said, were involved in separatist activities. When I refused, denying the accusations, they suspended me in a contorted position, I had my head thrown back ... then they started to beat the soles of my feet. They stopped only when I fainted. They started up again several times until I admitted to their accusations. For me it was the only way of getting them to stop torturing me. I confessed to everything they accused me of, but they still beat me again on several occasions. They gave me nothing to eat for three days and I had only a very little water to drink. I was imprisoned for eight days in the Ziguinchor gendarmerie before being transferred to Dakar, and over the whole of this time I was handcuffed. The torture made me very ill, but no doctor came to see me and I received no treatment. When I dared to ask the gendarmes to take me to hospital, they swore at me, humiliated me and beat me again ...."

Several testimonies indicating that gendarmes poured petrol into the private parts of female and male suspects have reached Amnesty International. Inhuman and humiliating treatment was inflicted on women; in particular, lighted cigarettes were stubbed out in their genital organs and rags stuffed into their vaginas.

During a major trial in 1985, in which over a hundred people were tried and heavy prison sentences imposed, several defendants testified that they had been tortured on gendarmerie premises in Casamance where they were being held before their cases were sent to the Public Prosecutor. Despite these statements, the State Security Court decided that the prisoners' complaints were unfounded. In several cases the confessions extorted under torture were the only evidence produced by the prosecution during the two trials. According to Article 15 of the Convention against Torture, however, a statement obtained under torture cannot be used as evidence against the victim during a trial. In addition, the authorities have refused to order an inquiry into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment inflicted on prisoners from Casamance.

Another case concerns Lamine Diédhiou, known as Babagnary, from Thionck-Essyl, who was arrested in 1987 and underwent a method of torture consisting of pulling out all of his beard hair by hair. Another suspect, from Kabiling, Diédhiou Kalifa, was allegedly manhandled at the Ziguinchor gendarmerie. His two arms were broken. Amnesty International has received information on the case of a prisoner named Abdoulaye Sambou who had a foot amputated while he was held at Dakar prison in 1987. This amputation was due to the fact that his feet were bound by wire and were infected.

In most of the cases reported to Amnesty International the members of the gendarmerie tortured prisoners during their period of detention in Ziguinchor and Bignona. It also appears that certain prisoners were manhandled after signing confessions.

Amnesty International has received information from a variety of sources to the effect that in December 1983, during the transfer of a group

of prisoners by boat from Ziguinchor to Dakar, some of them - including women and old people - were allegedly tortured by gendarmes. Hésa Tendeng, for example, born in Batinière-Boulane in the district of Nyassia, department of Ziguinchor, was said to have died as the result of ill-treatment, kicking and beating with the butt of a gun on board the "Falemé", a national navy vessel. It is reported that the gendarmes tried to throw his body overboard, but the master of the vessel objected.

It appears that other people died in 1983 after disembarking from the "Falemé", some of them at Le Dantec hospital, apparently as a result of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment they received on board the vessel: