Senegal: Torture: the Casamance case

April 30, 1990

Senegal: Torture: the Casamance case

- Mamadou Goudiaby, a mason from the village of Djibanghary,
department of Sédhiou, who lived in Ziguinchor;

- Apou-Marie Manga, housewife, born in Enampor in the district of

- Asséga Manga, housewife, born in Enampor.

An Amnesty International delegate who, in 1985, visited six women arrested in Casamance who were being held in Rufisque prison noted that they bore the scars of injuries. It seems that all of them were beaten by gendarmes either in Ziguinchor or in Dakar itself. It seems certain that some of them were tortured. They were living in prison in precarious conditions and in complete isolation more than a year and a half after their arrest. They had no visit before the visit of the Amnesty International delegate, nor had they received news of their families. They knew nothing at all about what had happened to their husbands and children.

It seems that, at the time of the visit, they were being relatively well treated and were receiving acceptable treatment from the women guards and governor. They were also living with women imprisoned under common law, most of them sentenced for infanticide or prostitution.

One of them had been arrested at Ziguinchor market as she was selling peanuts on her own behalf. She was wounded by a bullet which had left a large scar on her left foot. She stated that she had been tortured in Dakar and, as proof, showed the visible traces of burns and scars on her fingernails. Married and the mother of four children, she knew nothing at all of what had happened to her family.

Another woman, aged 60 at the time and the mother of nine children, had been arrested at her home. She was accused of having attended a demonstration. She was injured by a baton blow on the head. After her arrest, she had been stripped naked and beaten with batons by gendarmes.

A third woman aged between 60 and 70 in 1985 was unable to express herself coherently and could only weep profusely. She had been arrested on a footpath as she was going to the holy wood. She has several children and grandchildren, of whom she had no news. Her fellow prisoners seemed to treat her with special respect because of her age and stated that she too had been beaten.

In December 1987 another Amnesty International delegate interviewed a number of former political prisoners who had been held for a few months in 1986 and 1987 on the charge of having links with the separatist movement. These ex-prisoners bore the scars of injuries on their hands caused by wearing handcuffs and on their feet caused by torture.

In conclusion, there appear to be good grounds for stating that ill-treatment (violent blows and very unpleasant positions) had been inflicted on many prisoners during the preliminary investigation and that it has been possible to verify the use of torture in several cases. The ill-treatment stopped when the persons in custody were placed under the protection of the courts, but it is a matter of concern that the gendarmerie apparently continued to apply these methods in the course of their inquiries, despite it being revealed and despite the denunciations that reached them. Nothing and nobody was able to halt them in what they were doing.

3. Deaths in custody

Deaths of prisoners in custody appear to have been particularly numerous in the mid-1980s, particularly in 1983 and 1984. Amnesty International has received details of detainees who died in Casamance itself, while in gendarmerie custody, and of others who died at a later stage in their detention.

The organization has received the names of several people who died on gendarmerie premises, in particular at Ziguinchor, apparently as a result of torture or ill-treatment:

- Samba Bassène, village chief for Bougouillon, district of
Nyassia, department of Ziguinchor, is reported to have died on
the Ziguinchor gendarmerie premises in 1983;
- Malamine Sagna, a farmer living in Tobor, district of Tanghory,
department of Bignona, arrested on 30 December 1983, is reported
to have died soon after his arrival at the gendarmerie brigade at
Thionck, in Dakar, following blows he had received, particularly
in the ribs;