Author (s) :
United States Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
Date of publication :
On April 13th 2016, the United States department of states has published the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. In Senegal, The most significant human rights problems included prison overcrowding,lengthy pretrial detention, and corruption, particularly in the judiciary.
Senegal is a moderately decentralized republic dominated by a strong executivebranch. In 2012 voters elected Macky Sall to succeed Abdoulaye Wade aspresident for a seven-year term. In July 2012 Sall’s coalition won a majority ofseats in the National Assembly. Local and international observers viewed theelections as largely free and fair. Civilian authorities generally maintainedeffective control over the security forces.
The most significant human rights problems included prison overcrowding,
lengthy pretrial detention, and corruption, particularly in the judiciary.
Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
In August the government dropped charges against Tombon Oualy, the police officer who had been charged with shooting and killing university student Bassirou Faye during an August 2014 student demonstration. The investigative judge subsequently charged another police officer, Mouhamed Boughaleb, with the crime; he remained in pretrial detention at year’s end.
The two prison guards released on bail in 2014 and accused of the 2013 killing of a detainee at Rebeuss Prison had not been brought to trial by year’s end.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and law prohibit such practices, but there were occasional reports government officials employed them. Human rights organizations noted examples of physical abuse committed bysecurity forces, including cruel and degrading treatment in prisons and detention facilities. In particular, they criticized strip search and interrogation methods.
Police reportedly forced detainees to sleep on bare floors, directed bright lights atthem, beat them with batons, and kept them in cells with minimal access to fresh air. The government claimed these practices were not widespread and that it usually conducted formal investigations into cases of abuse. Investigations, however, often were unduly prolonged and rarely resulted in charges or indictments.
Human rights organizations criticized security force impunity and lack of supervision, particularly in the treatment of detainees in police custody.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison and detention center conditions were harsh and sometimes life threatening due to food shortages, overcrowding, poor sanitation, and inadequate medical care.
Physical Conditions: Overcrowding was a problem. For example, Dakar’s main prison facility, Rebeuss, held more than twice the number of inmates for which it was designed. Female detainees generally had better conditions than did men. Pretrial detainees were not always separated from convicted prisoners. Authoritiesheld boys separately from men, while girls were held together with women.
According to government statistics, 50 prisoners died in custody in 2014. In addition to overcrowding, the National Organization for Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization (NGO), identified lack of adequate sanitation as a major problem. Poor and insufficient food, limited access to medical care, stifling heat, poor drainage, and insect infestations also were problems.
Ombudsmen were available to respond to complaints. Prisoners generally had reasonable access to visitors and some access to lawyers, and they could observe religious practices. Authorities did not permit prisonersand detainees to submit complaints to judicial authorities without censorship or to request investigation of credible allegations of inhuman conditions.
In 2014 prisoner complaints of harsh treatment prompted at least two inspections by the National Prevention Mechanism, which subsequently submitted a report tothe Ministry of Justice that criticized living conditions and lengthy pretrialdetention. The inspection resulted in the filing of criminal charges against twoprison officials. The case continued at year’s end.
The government permitted prison visits by local human rights groups, all of which operated independently, and international observers. Members of the International Committee of the Red Cross visited prisons in Dakar and the Casamance.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
Police and gendarmes are responsible for maintaining law and order. The army shares that responsibility in exceptional cases, 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 operates in rural areas.
An amnesty law covers police and other security personnel involved in “political crimes” committed between 1983 and 2004, except those who committed killings in “cold blood”.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees
Although the law requires warrants issued by judges for police to make an arrest, police often lacked warrants when detaining individuals. The law grants policebroad powers to detain prisoners for long periods before filing formal charges.The DIC may hold persons up to 24 hours before releasing or charging them. Authorities did not promptly inform many detainees of the charges against them.Police officers, including DIC officials, may double the detention period from 24t o 48 hours without charge if a prosecutor so authorizes. Investigators can requestthat a prosecutor double this period to 96 hours. For cases involving claimedthreats to state security, the detention period may extend to 192 hours.
The detention period does not formally begin until authorities officially declare an individual is being detained, a practice Amnesty International criticized for resulting in unjustly long detention periods. Bail was rarely available. In the first 48 hours of detention, the accused has no access to an attorney but has the right to a medical examination. Officials generally did not allow family access. The accused has the right to an attorney, and an attorney is provided at public expense in felony cases to all criminal defendants who cannot afford one after the initial period of detention. Indigent defendants do not always receive attorneys in misdemeanor cases. A number of NGOs provided legal assistance or counseling to those charged with crimes.
According to a December 2014 EU-funded study, approximately 60 percent of the prison population consisted of pretrial detainees. The law states an accused person may not be held in pretrial detention for more than six months for minor crimes; however, authorities routinely held persons in custody until a court demanded their release. Judicial backlogs and absenteeism of judges resulted in an average delay of two years between the filing of charges and the beginning of a trial. In cases involving allegations of murder, threats to state security, and embezzlement of public funds, there were no limits on the length of pretrial detention. In many cases pretrial detainees were held for longer than the length of sentence received.
Denial of Fair Public Trial
Although the constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, the judiciary was inefficient and subject to corruption and government influence. Magistrates noted overwhelming caseloads, lack of adequate space and office equipment, and inadequate transportation, and they openly questioned the government’s commitment to judicial independence. According to Freedom in the World 2015, “inadequate pay and lack of tenure expose judges to external influences and prevent the courts from providing a proper check on the other branches of government. The president controls appointments to the Constitutional Council.” Authorities did not always respect court orders.
Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and cannot be compelled to testify against themselves or confess guilt. All defendants have the right to a public trial, to be present in court during their trial, to confront and present witnesses, to present evidence, and to have an attorney (at public expense if needed) in felony cases. Defendants have the right to be informed of the charges against them promptly and in detail with free interpretation as necessary. They have the right to sufficient time and facilities to prepare their defense. The government generally respected these rights.
Evidentiary hearings may be closed to the public and press. Although a defendant and counsel may introduce evidence before an investigating judge who decides whether to refer a case for trial, police or prosecutors may limit their access to evidence against the defendant prior to trial. A panel of judges presides over ordinary courts in civil and criminal cases; a 2012 law eliminated trials by jury. The right of appeal exists in all courts, except for the High Court of Justice. These rights extend to all citizens.
Les Wathinotes sont soit des résumés de publications sélectionnées par WATHI, conformes aux résumés originaux, soit des versions modifiées des résumés originaux, soit des extraits choisis par WATHI compte tenu de leur pertinence par rapport au thème du Débat. Lorsque les publications et leurs résumés ne sont disponibles qu’en français ou en anglais, WATHI se charge de la traduction des extraits choisis dans l’autre langue. Toutes les Wathinotes renvoient aux publications originales et intégrales qui ne sont pas hébergées par le site de WATHI, et sont destinées à promouvoir la lecture de ces documents, fruit du travail de recherche d’universitaires et d’experts.
The Wathinotes are either original abstracts of publications selected by WATHI, modified original summaries or publication quotes selected for their relevance for the theme of the Debate. When publications and abstracts are only available either in French or in English, the translation is done by WATHI. All the Wathinotes link to the original and integral publications that are not hosted on the WATHI website. WATHI participates to the promotion of these documents that have been written by university professors and experts.