Senegal


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Senegal is a country dominated by a strong executive branch and peaceful transition of power since its independence in 1958 from the French. In February 2019 voters re-elected Macky Sall as president for a second term for five more years in an election that locals and international observers saw to be free and fair.

Recently the government postponed till mid-2020, local municipal elections that were supposed to take place in December of 2019. The Police and sometimes gendarmes are responsible for maintaining law and order in cities and town. The army assists in that responsibility in exceptional circumstances , such as during a state of emergency.

The National Police are part of the Interior Ministry and operate in major cities. The Gendarmerie is part of the Ministry of Defense and primarily works outside major cities. The army also reports to the Ministry of Defense. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over the security forces, but the government still lacks effective mechanisms to hold people accountable for abuse and corruption.(State department Human Rights Report 2020).

Senegal is making improvements in terms of punishing the perpetrators of rape and other crimes.

According to the Amnesty International Reports the criminal Code was changed to increase sentences for perpetrators of rape and child sexual abuse.

In January, the Criminal Code was amended, criminalizing rape and child sexual abuse and increasing sentences for both.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government introduced several state of emergency legislations in March of 2020 and later, giving them extensive powers to rule without parliamentary oversight. Most of the restrictive measures, including a national curfew, were lifted in June of 2020.

 

Human Rights in Senegal have been deteriorating.

In recent history we have witnessed Senegalese security forces using excessive force to maintain public order, which is unusual in Senegal.

In January, a man died in police custody in the city of Fatick after he was allegedly beaten by police. Later on an autopsy, found he had died from “natural causes”, led to violent protests.

The authorities then began an investigation into three police officers suspected of being responsible, and that  is still pending.

In May, the gendarmerie tear gassed a youth press conference, in the town of Cap Skirring, which was put in place to highlight the lack of drinking water in the town. At least two participants were seriously injured after a police repression.

In June, four protesters were injured when police violently dispersed them while they were demonstrating against the 2013 illegal demolition of their homes in Gadiwaaye suburb in the capital, Dakar.

In June of 2020,the Senegalaise police arrested Assane Diouf after he criticized the government in a live video discussion. He remained in detention on charges including inciting an armed gathering and issuing public insults online.

In August, members of Dahiratoul Moustarchidine wal Moustarchidati, a religious organization, ransacked Les Échos newspaper’s office after it alleged that the organization’s leader had contracted COVID-19. Six suspects were arrested for the attack.

In September, Adja Ndiaye, a journalist working for Dakaractu was verbally abused and assaulted by police agents in Dakar, while reporting on a story. She suffered injuries to her neck and back from the assault and her camera was also damaged.

In March of 2021 Demonstrations broke out across Senegal following the arrest on March 3 of a prominent opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, head of the political party Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics, and Fraternity (PASTEF), in the capital, Dakar. Based on Human Rights Watch interviews with eight activists, protesters, and journalists, and reporting by media outlets and national and international rights groups, security forces fired teargas and, in some cases, live bullets to disperse the crowds that were protesting and the Senegalese authorities also arrested at  least 100 people. While many protesters responded by throwing rocks at the security forces, looting, and burning tires, cars, and other property. others protesters were reported to be peaceful.

References:

Everything you need to know about human rights in Senegal 2020 – Amnesty International Amnesty International

 

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/03/12/senegal-respect-free-expression-assembly#

 

SENEGAL 2019 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT (state.gov)