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SENEGAL – 250 prisoners in Rebeuss prison without water for 4 days

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The prisoners in Room 09 of Rebeuss Prison remained without water for four (04) days, informs the National Executive Secretariat of the FRAPP, adding that some prisoners were forced to buy bottles of 10L mineral water to take their shower.

FRAPP denounces this situation and challenges the director of the prison administration and the Minister of Justice. “Instead of defending President Macky Sall’s third illegal and illegitimate candidacy, the Minister of Justice should be concerned about the situation of prisoners,” RSF said on Friday 26 May 2023.

Guy Marius Sagne and Cie denounce «the prison overcrowding in this room 09 of Rebeuss with 250 prisoners, some of whom remain months without bed».

In room 10, an inmate named Babacar Fall was “tortured”. He is currently in the infirmary. FRAPP reminds the prison administration that Senegal has signed international conventions against torture.

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JUSTICE

SENEGAL – Human Rights Watch for an inquest into deaths and injuries following protests

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“The Senegalese authorities should immediately ensure an independent and credible investigation into the violence committed during demonstrations in the capital, Dakar, and throughout the country since May 31, 2023,” Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday, June 6, 2023. At least 16 people were reported dead, including two members of the security forces, and dozens more were injured. The government should unconditionally release all those detained for peacefully expressing their political views or exercising their right to freedom of assembly, and end arbitrary bans on access to the Internet and social networks.

Demonstrations erupted in Dakar on 31 May after a court sentenced an important opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, leader of the Senegal African Patriotes for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (PASTEF) political party, to two years in prison for “youth corruption”, thus jeopardizing his chances of running for president next year. On 4 June, Interior Minister Antoine Diome said that the violence had caused 16 deaths and that 500 arrests had taken place throughout Senegal. In a statement issued on 4 June, PASTEF said that security forces and “militias” had killed 19 people and that the Senegalese had to “defend themselves by all means and respond.”

“The recent deaths and injuries of demonstrators send a disturbing signal for the 2024 presidential election and should be thoroughly investigated to hold those responsible to account,” said Carine Kaneza Nantulya. Deputy Director of the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch. The authorities should end the crackdown on protesters and critics, and ensure freedom of assembly.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed 19 people by telephone, including three protesters, three civil society activists, four opposition members, five journalists and two lawyers. Human Rights Watch also reviewed information published by national and international media, eight photographs and eight videos showing dead and wounded, as well as images of the protests.

According to witnesses, demonstrators in Dakar erected barricades, blocked main roads, burned tires, destroyed and looted public and private property, and threw stones at the police, which responded with tear gas. “The police fired so many tear gas grenades that I could not breathe,” said a journalist who covered the events in the Parcelles neighbourhood in Dakar on 1 June. “I saw dozens of protesters looting a supermarket.” Elsewhere in the country, notably in Ziguinchor and Mbour, clashes also broke out between demonstrators and security forces. On 2 June, the army was deployed to reinforce security in Dakar, but the clashes continued on 3 June.

Human Rights Watch was unable to confirm the use of live bullets during the protests, but spoke with a witness who saw the body of 21-year-old Khadim Ba, who he said was reportedly shot in the chest by an armed man dressed in civilian clothes in the Pikine district of Dakar on the afternoon of 1 June. “We took the body to the Dominique Health Centre in Pikine for an autopsy because we clearly saw a clean gunshot wound to the chest,” said the witness. “The medical staff refused and told us that we needed a police report first… We went to the police…they made a report, so now we can do the autopsy.” The Senegalese media also reported on the death of Khadim Ba.

Several other witnesses reported the presence of «nervis» among the security forces. “These thugs drive in cars without plates and act with impunity under the protection of the security forces,” said a journalist who covered the protests. The opposition accused the authorities of using armed civilians alongside the security forces during the demonstrations. The media also reported similar events during previous demonstrations.

Several international media outlets have also reported the use of live ammunition during demonstrations in Dakar, resulting in the death of a 15-year-old boy and a 26-year-old student.

According to lawyers and the opposition, from May 30 to June 2, only in and around Dakar, security forces arrested at least 250 people, including women and children, mostly members and supporters of PASTEF, but also civil society activists and have beaten some of these people. “I represent 30 of those arrested in the Dakar region,” a lawyer told Human Rights Watch. “ “I was able to meet with them and found that some of them had visible injuries from the beatings they had received from the police.”

On 1 June in Richard Toll, northern Senegal, security forces arrested 40 people, including a woman and at least 7 children aged 11, after a demonstration in support of Sonko, according to their lawyer. A member of PASTEF who helped the arrested woman to hospital after being severely beaten by police said: The police arrested [the victim] and told her, “We know you, you’re a PASTEF leader,” and they brutally beat her.”

A lawyer representing the woman stated that she suffered serious injuries to her hands and legs and that, according to the doctors’ prognosis, she would be recovered within 18 days. He also testified that she was threatened with rape. Human Rights Watch examined four photographs of the victim in hospital and his injuries. According to the lawyer, the 40 people arrested are still being held at Richard Toll Police Station, “under difficult conditions, crammed into a cell with many others.”

The last demonstrations took place in a context of great tensions across the country. Since 2021, violent demonstrations related to the silence of President Macky Sall on his intention to seek a third term or not and the case involving Sonko have erupted across the country. Excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests by security forces during demonstrations have become commonplace since 2021, and justice has not been rendered for these abuses. “It is regrettable and inconceivable that, under the rule of law, no one has had to answer for the deaths of dozens of protesters since 2021,” said a lawyer who represents many of the people arrested since June 1.

Alioune Tine, a prominent Senegalese human rights activist and founder of the research organization AfrikaJom, told Human Rights Watch, “Never since the 1960s have there been so many political prisoners in Senegal.”

In recent months, the authorities have repressed opposition members, the media and dissent. The security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained journalists and protesters and banned demonstrations organised by the political opposition.

During the last demonstrations in Dakar, security forces intimidated journalists and prevented them from covering the events. “A policeman arrested me, I showed my press card,” says a journalist who approached the University of Dakar district to report on the clashes between students and police on 1 June. He said, “I don’t care about the press,” and he wouldn’t let me. On 29 May, gendarmes arrested a team of three journalists working for the Senegalese online media Senegal7, “seized our phones and cameras, and prevented us from filming the PASTEF protesters who had gathered in the Sacré-Coeur district of Dakar,” said one of the journalists.

On June 1, the Senegalese Minister of the Interior announced restrictions on social media to put an end to the “spread of hate and subversive messages”. On 4 June, the government extended the cuts to mobile Internet. These restrictions have prevented journalists, human rights activists and others from communicating, obtaining information or reporting on ongoing events, Human Rights Watch said.

On 2 June, in response to the protests, the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional bloc, condemned the violence and called on all parties to show restraint. The same day, Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the African Union Commission, called for respect for the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

International human rights law and the Senegalese constitution protect the right to freedom of assembly and expression and prohibit the excessive use of force by law enforcement. The Guidelines for Law Enforcement at Meetings in Africa stipulate that law enforcement officers may use force only on the basis of the seriousness of the offence and the intentional use of the Lethal force is permitted only when it is strictly inevitable to protect life. It also provides that the army is to be used to control gatherings “only in exceptional circumstances and only when absolutely necessary.”

The African Union Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa requires that Internet restrictions be both necessary and proportionate and that governments should not interfere with freedom of opinion of anyone.

“The Senegalese authorities must put an end to arbitrary arrests, release wrongly detained persons, including children, and respect the right of Senegalese people to demonstrate and protest peacefully,” said Carine Kaneza Nantulya. The African Union and ECOWAS should use their influence to push the Senegalese authorities to end the crackdown on protests and criticism.”

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JUSTICE

SENEGAL – A warning authority on the removal of the electronic bracelet

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The Assistant Director of Criminal Affairs and Pardons, Alassane Ndiaye, warned any offender who tried to remove or damage his electronic bracelet. He indicated that any act along these lines would be considered an escape offence.

‘The consequences of attempting to kidnap or damage the electronic bracelet is considered an escape offence,’ said Mr Ndiaye. this Friday, May 12, 2023 on the sidelines of the sharing and awareness activity on the electronic bracelet of the Ministry of Justice services with journalists and civil society.

As a result, this offence is punishable by imprisonment. And this is a sentence of “at least 6 months in prison,” said the deputy DG of Criminal Affairs and Graces in his presentation.

Ndiaye also noted that persons charged or convicted of “misappropriation of public funds and customs offences cannot be beneficiaries of electronic bracelet.”

“Persons prosecuted or convicted for the misappropriation of public funds or customs offences are obliged to a bond or a prior refund”, he said

As a reminder, many inmates, after provisional release, wear electronic wristbands to monitor their movements.

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JUSTICE

SENEGAL – 21 prisoners evacuated following their hunger strike

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The Front pour une révolution anti-imperialiiste populaire et panafricaine (FRAPP) reports that 21 prisoners of the House of Arrest and Correction in Mbour (West) have been evacuated to the hospital, after their hunger strike started Monday, May 1, 2023 to protest in particular against “lengthy preventive detention”.

The FRAPP National Executive Secretariat (SEN) reports that the health of the hunger strikers in the Mbour prison is deteriorating. On hunger strike since Monday to protest against “the long preventive detentions, the discriminatory policy of the Criminal Chamber of Mbour” 21 hunger strikers have been evacuated of which 04 in serious condition and two suicide attempts,” reads a statement

As a reminder, the residents of the House of Arrest and Correction of Mbour started a hunger strike on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, refusing their breakfast ration. All the loaves have been returned. At least that’s what FRAPP tells us. In a communiqué sent, the National Executive Secretariat (SEN) of the FRAPP indicates that all defendants from 2018 to 2019 are on hunger strike. The reasons for their hunger strike: long preventive detentions, discriminatory policy of the Criminal Chamber of Mbour and non-compliance with commitments. However, CLDR expresses its deep concern. After the prisons of Gossas, Koutal, today it is the prisoners of Mbour who are on hunger strike. The FRAPP once again challenges the Minister of Justice and President Macky Sall on inhuman and degrading prison conditions.

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