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TITLE: SENEGAL HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DATE: FEBRUARY 1995 SENEGAL Senegal is a republic with an elected President, Abdou Diouf, who has been in office since 1981, and a unicameral legislature controlled by the President's Socialist Party (PS) since independence from France in 1960. The Senegalese armed forces, numbering about 15,000, are professional and disciplined. They traditionally remain aloof from politics. The paramilitary Gendarmerie reportedly is less professional and less disciplined. Police were responsible for a number of serious human rights abuses during the year. Senegal is predominantly agricultural. More than 70 percent of the labor force is engaged in farming, largely peanut production. Since 1983, the Government has pursued a structural adjustment program intended to reduce the role of government, encourage the private sector, and stimulate economic growth. Nonetheless, the economy remained depressed. A 50-percent devaluation in January of the CFA (the local currency pegged to the French franc) has encouraged a regeneration of tourism and other major exports. There were, however, serious human rights abuses in 1994 arising from internal political conflict over the 1993 elections, the unresolved case of a judge's assassination in 1993, and a 1994 opposition party meeting which ended in violence and several deaths, including six policemen. These abuses involved the arrest and extended detention of political opposition figures without serious evidence, the torture of prisoners by police, and the death of a suspect in police custody. Few, if any, police are tried and punished for such abuses, and none were in 1994. Other human rights abuses include restrictions on freedom of association, and domestic violence and discrimination against women. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing There were no reports of political killings, but in one instance a suspect died in police custody under circumstances the Government refused to clarify or investigate. Police arrested Lamine Samb, a member of the Moustarchidine Islamic religious sect ("Followers of God") on February 26 and questioned him in connection with riots in which eight persons had died. Samb later died in police custody, following questioning about the disturbances. The Government did not release an autopsy report and stated in response to inquiries from human rights organizations that it had found no police responsibility for Samb's death. It did not state the cause of death or otherwise clarify the matter. b. Disappearance There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment There are credible reports that police tortured many of the 150 persons arrested in February in connection with riots that erupted following a meeting of Coordination of Democratic Forces, a coalition of opposition parties. Parliamentarian Mody Sy, one of several alleged conspirators in the May 1993 assassination of Constitutional Court Vice President Babacar Seye, presented credible evidence upon his release from jail in June that he was subjected to electroshock torture immediately after his arrest on May 20. Sy's release came after a 6-day hunger strike that aggravated an existing medical condition. Prisons remain overcrowded, and food and health care are inadequate. There have been no reported deaths in prison caused by these conditions. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile Although the Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, there continue to be instances in which police arrest and detain opponents of the Government, using highly questionable evidence. This was the case again in the arrest and detention of opposition party leaders for crimes against the security of the State during the February 16 riots. Police charged 150 persons arrested on February 24 with threatening state security during these riots. They included three sitting members of the legislature, the head of the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) Abdoulaye Wade, the Secretary-General of the And/Jef-pads opposition party Landing Savane, Deputy Pape Omar Kane, Pape Malick Sy, uncle of the jailed Moustarchidine leader Moustapha Sy, and over 100 supporters of the Moustarchidine religious sect. The court never ruled whether the arrests of the Deputies violated their parliamentary immunity, which only the National Assembly has the power to waive. The State avoided the issue by relying on a law known as "Flagrant Delit" (caught in the act) which the prosecution claimed made it unnecessary to waive the deputies' immunity before charging them. The defendants remained in jail from February 18 until July 4. The Government released them after they began a hunger strike on June 30 to protest its failure to set a trial date. On August 30, the court dismissed charges against Wade and the five codefendants. The court ordered that the case go forward against 25 others who are members of the Moustarchidine Movement and against Moustarchidine leader Moustapha Sy (who was in jail on other charges at the time the riots took place). The 25 Moustarchidine defendants received fines of up to $500. All have been released from prison. Warrants, issued by judges, are required for arrests. Police may legally hold without charge a person suspected of a crime for 48 hours after arrest and for up to 72 hours if ordered by a public prosecutor. This period may be doubled in the case of crimes against the security of the state. The prosecutor decides whether or not to proceed with the case. If so, it is forwarded to a judge of instruction who can open an investigation. At this point the suspects are preliminarily charged. They may be held over without bail or released on their own recognizance. The law grants the police broad powers to detain prisoners, frequently without cause or explanation. During temporary detention, the prisoner has no access to family or an attorney, but is allowed to ask for examination by a medical doctor. Once a prisoner is charged, both are permitted visits. Custody is valid for 6 months, extendable for 6 additional months if the investigating magistrate certifies that more time is required. Extensions of custody are permitted when civil authorities determine that there is a threat of civil unrest or that a person is a danger to himself or others. Such extensions may be reviewed by a court on appeal from the accused's attorney. Such procedures raise serious questions about the presumption of innocence. In principle, the accused is innocent until proven guilty, and when brought to trial it is the State's burden to prove that the accused is guilty of the charges against him. The detention process, however, virtually presumes guilt. Police are given the benefit of the doubt and may detain a prisoner for long periods of time while they investigate and build a case against him. The first 6 months of custody are virtually unchallengeable. Beyond 6 months, the accused may appeal to a court to end custody. Authorities may and routinely do hold prisoners in custody unless and until a court demands their release. Exile is not used as a means of political control. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The Constitution calls for a judiciary independent of the executive, the legislature and the armed forces. However, low pay, poor working conditions, and family and political ties continue to leave magistrates vulnerable to outside pressures. Except as noted in Section 1.d., defendants are legally presumed innocent until proven guilty. Trials are public, and defendants have the right to be present in court, to confront witnesses, to present evidence, and to have a defense attorney. In practice, however, some defendants are denied legal assistance at public expense due to lack of funding. Hearings for evidence can be closed to the public and the press, as was the case with the March 17 hearings for opposition leaders Wade and Savane. A panel of judges presides over ordinary courts. In criminal cases, ordinary citizens also serve on the panel. Three courts created in May 1992 to replace the Supreme Court remain understaffed and only partly functional. There are three other categories of special courts, two of which have rarely met, namely the High Court of Justice, created for the sole purpose of trying senior government officials for treason or malfeasance, the Court for the Repression of the Unlawful Accumulation of Wealth, and the Military Court System. Military courts may not try civilians. The right of appeal exists in all courts except military courts and in the special "Illegal Enrichment" court. In politically sensitive cases, the Minister of Justice has a great deal of authority in scheduling trials. The prosecution also has a substantial ability to delay cases. The cases of PDS Deputy Mody Sy and PDS financial counselor Samuel Sarr, two of the alleged conspirators in the May 1993 assassination of Judge Babacar Seye, are particularly egregious examples of judicial delay. Sy and Sarr were jailed in May 1993. On May 26, 1994, a lower court dismissed charges against them, along with PDS Secretary-General Abdoulaye Wade, his wife Viviane, and PDS Deputy Ousmane Ngom. The Attorney General appealed the ruling, and, despite constitutional appeals to the contrary, Sy and Sarr remained in jail awaiting higher court (Cour de Cassation) review. They were released from detention on June 27 after a 6-day hunger strike. The High Court affirmed the dismissal of charges on September 6. The Court ruled that charges should go forward against Pape Diakhate, Cleodore Sene, and Assane Diop, the alleged assassins, who have been in jail since May 1993. The Court sentenced the three on October 9 to 18, 18, and 20 years, respectively, at hard labor. Moustapha Sy, Moustarchidine religious leader, was convicted for incitement to riot and offenses against the Head of State. Sy was sentenced to 1 year in prison on January 14 and fined approximately $4,000. The incident stemmed from a speech before a PDS rally in October 1993. Sy refused to testify at his trial, charging that he had committed no crime. Because of his refusal to appear at trial, Sy's lawyers were barred from representing him. President Diouf pardoned Sy on September 12. There were no political detainees or prisoners at the end of 1994. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence The Constitution prohibits arbitrary invasion of the home, and there was little government interference in the private lives of citizens, particularly in the rural areas. Normally, search warrants are required and only judges may issue them. In practice, however, searches without warrants occasionally take place. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press While the Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, the press is restricted by laws prohibiting the expression of views which "discredit" the State, incite the population to disorder, or disseminate "false news." For example, religious leader Moustapha Sy was convicted under this law on January 1 for statements he allegedly made during a political meeting (see Section l.e.). In 1994 numerous daily and weekly independent newspapers continued circulation unhindered. A broad spectrum of thought and opinion is available through regularly published magazines and newspapers. Until the debut of Senegal's first independent radio station, SUD-FM in July, the Government controlled the broadcast media not through self-censorship but by licensing arrangements. Prior to the establishment of SUD-FM, two other radio stations provided mostly international news. The Government continued to operate the country's only television station. Two French cable channels offer entertainment but no local news coverage. Political views expressed in the independent press are often critical of the Government and its programs. Government officials, politicians, and political parties are not immune. Publishers are required to register with the Central Court prior to starting publication, but the Government routinely approves such registrations. Publications, including foreign publications critical of the Government, were neither censored nor banned. In fact, the Government interceded to get charges against the editor of Jeune Afrique magazine dismissed, and a court-ordered 1-year ban against the journal's distribution in Senegal overturned. Academic freedom is respected. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association The Government requires prior authorization for public demonstrations. After eight persons died during the February riots, the Government severely restricted the constitutional rights of assembly and association, including banning all activities of the Moustarchidines. It permitted only two public demonstrations by political opposition parties since that time. Senegalese wishing to form associations must register with the Ministry of Interior. Business-related associations are registered with the Ministry of Commerce. By law and in practice, the Ministry of Interior must register such groups so long as the objectives of association are clearly stated and do not violate the law. c. Freedom of Religion Senegal is a secular state, and freedom of religion, a legal right, exists in practice. Islam is the religion of 94 percent of the population, but citizens also practice other religions freely. Missionary activity is permitted, and foreign Christian missionaries are active in several regions of the country. Conversion is permitted, and there is no discrimination against minority religions. In theory, adherence to a particular religion confers no official advantage or disadvantage in civil, political, economic, military, or other matters. In practice, membership in an Islamic sect may afford certain political and economic protection. The Moustarchidines had supported the Democratic party, including holding protest marches. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation The Constitution provides all citizens the right to travel and establish themselves freely anywhere in Senegal, a right respected in practice. Exit visas are not required for travel outside the country. There is no restriction on emigration, and repatriates are not disadvantaged on their return to Senegal. A Senegalese citizen by birth may not have his citizenship annulled for any reason. The Government may revoke the citizenship of a naturalized citizen if it is proved in a court of law that the person had obtained citizenship fraudulently or was convicted of a crime while a citizen for less than 15 years. Ethnic violence against Senegalese in Mauritania and Mauritanians in Senegal in 1989 resulted in the suspension of relations between the two countries and the repatriation of thousands of Senegalese and Mauritanian nationals. Senegal accepted its own nationals and provided asylum to Afro- Mauritanians expelled by the Government of Mauritania. Approximately 52,000 refugees from Mauritania remain in Senegal. Of this number, several thousand circulate freely, and the majority have settled along the bank of the Senegal River on the border of the two countries. Refugees have freedom of movement and are not subject to forced repatriation. While relations between the Governments of Senegal and Mauritania were reestablished and borders reopened in 1992, the two countries had not resolved the issue of voluntary repatriation for Mauritanian refugees by year's end. Most of the 13,600 Senegalese refugees in Guinea-Bissau who fled the violence in the Casamance region of Senegal have been able to remain in Guinea-Bissau due to economic and ethnic integration, while observing whether the Casamance peace will endure. About half of the nearly 3,500 Senegalese refugees who fled to the Gambia have returned to the Casamance region. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Senegalese have the constitutional right to change their government through periodic multiparty elections. However, the Socialist Party's domination of political life--it has held power since independence--has called into question the extent to which citizens can exercise that right. The PS holds 84 of the 120 Assembly seats, and the PDS 27. Four other opposition parties divide the remaining nine seats. The 1992 Electoral Code introduced the secret ballot and lowered the voting age to 18 years. In August the National Assembly approved changes to the Electoral Code that eliminated "Ordonnances," a much-abused process that allowed individuals to vote who, among other things, claimed their identification cards had been lost or stolen. There are no legal impediments to women's participation in government and politics, but several de facto impediments exist. Only 2 of the 29 ministers who make up the President's Cabinet are women. There are no women heading political parties, and only 9 deputies in the 120-member National Assembly are women. Their lower representation reflects not only disparity in education (see Section 5), but also cultural pressures, since ministers appointed by the President and Deputies owe their election to the National Assembly to their ranking on party voting lists. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights There are at least eight local human rights associations. All are free to criticize the Government publicly. The Government allows international human rights groups to investigate allegations concerning human rights abuses and generally responds to requests for information about allegations. However, the Government still failed to undertake a formal investigation after Amnesty International asked it to look into the May 1993 charges by Mody Sy that he was tortured after arrest (see Section l.c.). In response to an Amnesty International inquiry into the death of Lamine Samb while in custody, the Government denied responsibility (see Section l). Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status The Constitution states that "men and women shall be equal in law." Officially, there is no discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or language, but de facto discrimination against women is pervasive. Women Despite constitutional provisions, women face extensive societal discrimination, especially in the rural areas where Islamic and Senegalese customs, including polygyny and Islamic rules of inheritance, are strongest and where women are confined to traditional roles. There is no legal discrimination against women in the law of inheritance. In the countryside, women perform much of the subsistence farming and child-rearing and have only very limited educational opportunities. Traditional practices, for example, make it difficult for women to acquire sufficient collateral to obtain bank credit. According to a U.N. study, only 20 percent of women are in paid employment. Women usually marry young (the majority by age 16 in rural areas), average seven live births, and die relatively young. About half of all Senegalese women live in polygynous unions. Despite Government encouragement, there is still much discrimination against females in educational opportunities. Overall, females receive less than one-third the schooling received by males. In urban areas, women are active in government, political life, and business--although few are in top positions. The Government has made some efforts to increase respect for women's legal rights to divorce, alimony, child support, and employment, but it still does not enforce these rights effectively, particularly in rural areas. In general, women receive equal pay for equal work. There are credible reports that violence against women, usually wife beating, is common, particularly in rural areas. Police do not normally intervene in domestic disputes, and women are reluctant to go outside the family for redress. Rape is viewed as a very serious crime, and rape cases that come to trial have produced convictions. The law stipulates that persons convicted of rape may be imprisoned up to 10 years, and more if the victim is a minor. Children The Ministry of Women, Children, and the Family, established in 1990, has the responsibility for promoting children's welfare. Organizations active in support of children's rights include UNIFEM, the Senegalese Association for Education and the Promotion of Human Rights, and the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children. There are no laws or regulations prohibiting female genital mutilation (FGM), which has been condemned by international experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health. FGM is not practiced by Senegal's largest ethnic group, the Wolofs, but it is performed on girls belonging to other ethnic groups. According to an independent expert, the percentage of girls who have undergone this procedure may be as high as 50 percent. Infibulation, the most extreme and dangerous form of genital mutilation, is practiced by the Toucouleur and Peulh ethnic groups. Perhaps 6 percent of women have undergone this procedure. Among its other activities, the Ministry of Women, Children, and the Family promotes programs to educate women to the dangers of genital mutilation. People with Disabilities There is no overt discrimination against the handicapped. In practice, persons with physical disabilities are unable to participate in almost all mainstream occupations due to physical barriers and lack of equipment that would make such participation possible. There are no laws or regulations that mandate accessibility. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association All workers have the right of association and are free to form or join unions. A minimum of seven persons, each having worked within the trade for at least 1 year, may form a trade union by submitting a list of members and a charter to the Ministry of Interior. Not all unions, however, succeed in gaining recognition, and the Ministry may disband a union if its activities deviate from its charter. The Labor Code does not apply to the informal and agricultural sectors. Although unions sometimes fail to obtain initial recognition, once received, the Government virtually never withdraws it. Even though they represent a small percentage of the working population, unions wield significant political influence because of their ability to disrupt vital sectors of the economy. The small industrial component of the total work force of 3.9 million is almost totally unionized. The only union in the agrarian sector is one representing the workers employed at the Senegalese Sugar Company. The National Confederation of Senegalese Workers (CNTS), the largest union organization, has close ties to the ruling PS, and union members hold a considerable number of government positions as well as 12 of the PS seats in the National Assembly. While ostensibly an independent organization, the umbrella CNTS has supported Government policies. The rival to the CNTS is the National Union of Autonomous Labor Unions of Senegal (UNSAS). The UNSAS is a federation of strategically important unions, such as those of electricians, telephone and telegraph workers, teachers, water technicians, hospital and railroad workers, and sugar producers. The UNSAS reportedly has no specific political orientation. The Constitution and the Labor Code provide for the right to strike, but with restrictions. Unions representing members of the civil service must request permission to strike 1 month in advance, and private sector unions must request permission 3 days in advance. The Government has the right to approve or disapprove a strike request. Separate strikes by the Union of University Professors and the Students' Union led to the Government's decision to invalidate the 1993-4 academic year at the University of Dakar. The Labor Code permits unions to affiliate with international bodies. The CNTS is active in regional and international labor organizations and is the dominant Senegalese member of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity. The UNSAS is not so affiliated. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively Unions have the right by law to organize and to bargain collectively, and these rights are protected in practice. There are also legal prohibitions governing discrimination by employers against union members and organizers. Employers found guilty of antiunion discrimination are required to reinstate workers. There were no known instances in which workers were forcibly discouraged from exercising the right to organize and bargain collectively. The Ministry of Labor can intervene in disputes between labor and management if requested, and plays a mediation and arbitration role in the private and state enterprise sectors. Labor laws apply in principle to all industrial firms, including those in the export free zone in Dakar. However, firms operating in the free zone and those eligible for benefits under the investment code enjoy certain exceptions to the Labor Code. Unlike other businesses in the formal sector, these firms do not need prior government authorization to dismiss employees, and they may hire workers on renewable temporary contracts for a period of up to five years. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor There were no reports of forced labor, and it is prohibited by law. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children The minimum age for employment is 16 years for apprenticeships and 18 for all other types of work. Ministry of Labor inspectors closely monitor and enforce these restrictions within the formal wage sector, which includes state-owned corporations, large private enterprises, and cooperatives. On the other hand, children under 15 frequently work in the much larger traditional or informal sector, such as family farms in rural areas or in small businesses, where the Government does not enforce minimum age and other workplace regulations. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work Legislation mandating a monthly minimum wage has been in force since the country's independence in 1960. The Ministers of Labor and Finance determine wage rates after negotiating with the unions and management councils. The minimum hourly wage of less than $0.50 (about 200 CFA) is not adequate to support a worker and family. Following the devaluation of the CFA franc in January, unions and Government failed to reach an agreement on an increase in the minimum wage. Other salaries, depending on the sector and level, were increased by 10 to 30 percent. Within the formal economic sector, the law mandates: a standard workweek of 40 to 48 hours for most occupations, with at least one 24-hour rest period, 1 month per year of annual leave; enrollment in Government systems for social security and retirement; safety standards; and a variety of other measures. These regulations are incorporated into the Labor Code but are supervised by inspectors from the Ministry of Labor. Enforcement, however, appears to be uneven, especially outside the formal sector. There are no explicit legal protections for workers who file complaints about unsafe conditions. While there are legal regulations concerning workplace safety, government officials do not often enforce them. (###)
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