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Title: Senegal Human Rights Practices, 1995 Author: U.S. Department of State Date: March 1996 SENEGAL Senegal is a republic with an elected president, Abdou Diouf, who has been in office since 1981, and a unicameral legislature dominated by the President's Socialist Party (PS) since independence from France in 1960. The President appointed six members of the opposition party, the Democratic Party (PDS), and three independents to his Cabinet in March. He subsequently fired two independents in September after their party accused the Government of incompetence. The Senegalese armed forces are professional and generally disciplined. They traditionally remain aloof from politics and are firmly under civilian control. The paramilitary gendarmerie and the police are less professional and less disciplined. The military continued to be engaged in clashes with separatists in the Casamance region of southern Senega1, with reported abuses on both sides, especially by the rebels. The police committed numerous human rights abuses. Senegal is predominantly agricultural with more than 70 percent of the labor force engaged in farming, largely peanut production. Since the devaluation of the CFA franc in 1994, the Government has implemented a series of economic policy reforms to enhance competitiveness and is phasing out most qualitative restrictions on imports, dismantling monopolies, liberalizing the labor market, and privatizing several important state-owned industries. Supported by the international donor community, Senegal remains dependent on foreign assistance as an important source of national income. The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens. However, there were serious problems in some areas, particularly torture by police of suspects during questioning and lengthy pretrial detention. Senegalese armed forces reportedly committed human rights abuses against Casamance rebel prisoners and sympathizers. The Government tried or punished few military, gendarme, or police for human rights abuses. It promoted a senior official widely accused of involvement in a major 1994 torture case. Poor prison conditions, domestic violence and discrimination against women, and some abuse of children are also problems. There were credible reports of serious human rights abuses perpetrated by Casamance rebels against citizens and government officials. 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 confirmed reports of political or extrajudicial killings by government officials. The Government did not bring charges or further investigate the 1994 killing in police custody of Moustarchidine religious sect activist Lamine Samb. There were reports by human rights groups that soldiers killed captured Movement of Democratic Forces of the Casamance (MFDC) rebels. MFDC guerrillas took credit for a handful of political killings in the Casamance, particularly the murders of government officials. Starting in February, MFDC guerrillas violated the 1993 cease-fire and proceeded to intimidate and murder officials and politicians who maintained loyalty to the central Government. The rebels murdered or displaced numerous civilians viewed as uncooperative by the MFDC. While precise data are lacking, there were an estimated 50 civilian deaths due to fighting in the Casamance, and approximately 15,000 persons displaced. Also, 58 soldiers and an estimated 200 MFDC guerrillas have been killed in the conflict. 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 and gendarmes often beat suspects during questioning and pretrial detention, in spite of constitutional prohibitions against such treatment. Police perpetrated torture, usually beatings, has become an embarrassing public issue for the Government and is regularly treated in Senegal's lively press. Nevertheless, the authorities promoted the gendarme commander who is widely believed responsible for the torture of parliamentarian Mody Sy while Sy was in custody on trumped up charges of murdering Judge Babacar Seye in 1993. However, in September prosecutors decided to detain and prosecute a police commissioner and two police officers accused of torturing, molesting, and raping a female pretrial detainee at a Dakar area police station. Prisons remain overcrowded, and food and health care are inadequate. However, there have been no reported deaths in prison due to these conditions. The Government permits visits by government, nongovernmental (NGO), and international human rights monitors. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile; and the Government does not systematically violate these constitutional prohibitions. There were no new incidents of the Government arresting opposition party leaders on questionable grounds. The law specifies that warrants, issued by judges, are required for arrests. However, laws also grant the police broad powers to detain prisoners for lengthy periods of time. 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 to forward the case to an investigating judge who may open an investigation. At this point, the suspects are preliminarily charged and may be held or released on their own recognizance. There is no system of bail. During temporary detention, the accused has no access to family or an attorney but has the right to request examination by a physician. Once charged, a prisoner is permitted visits by both family and legal advisors. The accused may be held in custody for 6 months, extendable for 6 additional months if the investigating magistrate certifies an extension is required. Such extensions may be reviewed by a court on appeal from the accused's attorney. 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. However, police are rarely prosecuted for violations of arrest and detention procedures, and the authorities may detain a prisoner for long periods of time while they investigate and build a case against a suspect. The authorities may and routinely do hold prisoners in custody unless and until a court demands their release. Despite the 6-month limitations mentioned above, the time between the charging phase and trial averages 2 years. Exile is not used. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The Constitution provides for a judiciary independent of the executive, the legislature, and the armed forces. However, magistrates are vulnerable to outside pressures due to low pay, poor working conditions, and family and political ties. Also, the Minister of Justice and subordinate authorities have extensive authority to influence judicial procedures, e.g., in keeping the accused in pretrial detention. The legal system is based on French civil law and is composed of ordinary courts and a number of higher and special courts, including the three created in May 1992 to replace the Supreme Court: The Council of State for Administrative Questions, the Constitutional Council, and a Court of Appeal. These Courts remain understaffed, and many of the special courts, including the Unlawful Enrichment Court and special courts to try government officials for treason and malfeasance, are dormant. Muslims have the right to choose customary law or civil law for certain civil cases, such as those concerning inheritance and divorce. However, customary law decisions are rendered by civil court judges. The right of appeal exists in all courts except military courts and the special "illegal enrichment" Court. Military courts may not try civilians. Trials are public, and defendants have the right to be present in court, to confront witnesses, to present evidence, and to have an attorney. In practice, however, some defendants are denied legal assistance at public expense due to lack of funding. Evidentiary hearings may be closed to the public and the press. A panel of judges presides over ordinary courts for both civil and criminal cases; in criminal cases citizens also serve on the panel. There were no reports of political prisoners. However, the Government held self-proclaimed MFDC rebel leader Abbe Diamacoune and four military/political advisers, extradited from Guinea-Bissau in 1994, under house arrest in lieu of being tried for treason as the Government works to negotiate an end to the separatist conflict. 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. Under the law, search warrants are required, and only judges may issue them. During high-profile or politically charged investigations police often proceed without the required search warrants. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the Government generally respects these rights in practice. Laws prohibit the press from the expression of views that "discredit" the State, incite the population to disorder, or disseminate "false news." However, the Government did not prosecute any groups or persons under these statutes during the year. A broad spectrum of thought and opinion is available to the public through regularly published magazines and newspapers, including foreign publications, and numerous independent radio stations. Political and economic views expressed in the independent press are often critical of the Government and its programs. While publishers are required to register prior to starting publication, the Government routinely approves such registrations. A government monopoly controls local television, an important source of news. French-owned pay television is available but offers no local news. Academic freedom is respected. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government generally respects them in practice. The Government requires prior authorization for public demonstrations which it usually grants. In early 1995, it declined to issue public demonstration permits to the Moustarchidine Islamic sect, one of the groups the Government holds responsible for the February 1994 riots that resulted in the death of eight persons. However, by April the Government began permitting large Moustarchidine gatherings, even though the group technically remains banned. 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 the association are clearly stated and they do not violate the law. c. Freedom of Religion The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government generally respects them in practice. Certain public employees must obtain government approval before departing Senegal. The Government cooperates with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees. There were no reports of forced expulsions of those having a valid claim to refugee status. The more than 60,000 Mauritanian refugees resident in Senegal, and other refugee groups, move freely throughout the country. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Citizens 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 this right. The PS holds a large majority in Parliament with 86 parliamentary seats. The opposition holds 34 seats. There are 20 legal opposition parties. Six members of the leading opposition party, the Democratic Party (PDS), and three independents joined President Diouf's 33-member Cabinet on March 15. In September he fired two of the independents after their party accused the Government of incompetence. Despite its preeminent position, the PS faced extensive factional in- fighting during the year, in one instance resulting in the deaths of six PS supporters. This internal PS conflict was responsible, at least in part, for the Government canceling the November 1995 municipal elections and rescheduling them to coincide with the November 1996 rural elections. Although the Government characterized the delay as an efficiency/cost-cutting measure, opposition parties charged that the postponement was a manipulation of the electoral law, giving the PS more time to prepare for elections. Women are underrepresented in the political process. While there are no legal impediments to their participation in government and politics, several de facto impediments exist. Only 3 of the 33 Ministers who comprise the President's Cabinet are women, and there are only 2 in the 19-member Economic and Social Council, the Government's quasi- policymaking body. There are no women heading political parties, and only 14 female Deputies in the 120-member National Assembly. Their lower representation reflects not only disparity in education (see Section 5), but also cultural pressures. In addition, political parties often rank women low on party lists, making it difficult for them to be elected to the National Assembly or be appointed ministers. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights A wide variety of human rights groups operate without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials are generally cooperative and receptive of their views. However, while the Government has made no apparent attempts to suppress criticism, it has not responded to reliable reports of human rights abuses by government forces involved in the MFDC conflict in the Casamance. 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" and prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, sex, class, or language. However, de facto discrimination against women is pervasive, and the Government does not frequently enforce antidiscrimination laws. Women There are credible reports that violence against women, usually wife beating, is common, particularly in rural areas. Police do not usually intervene in domestic disputes, and most people are reluctant to go outside the family for redress. The law and society view rape as a very serious crime, and the law stipulates that persons convicted of rape may be imprisoned up to 10 years, more if the victim is a minor. Rape trials often result in convictions. Moreover, vigilante action is often meted out to the accused before the police are able to arrest rape or family violence suspects. Despite constitutional protections, women face extensive societal discrimination, especially in rural areas where Islamic and Senegalese customs, including polygyny and Islamic rules of inheritance, are strongest, and women are generally confined to traditional roles. In the countryside, women perform much of the subsistence farming and childrearing and have limited educational opportunities. Although the Government has committed itself to equalizing male/female primary school enrollment, there is still much social and official discrimination against women in educational opportunities. Only 19 percent of females over 15 years of age are literate, while the rate for males over age 15 is 37 percent. According to the U.N. only 20 percent of women are engaged in paid employment. Traditional practices, moreover, make it difficult for women to obtain bank credit. Women usually marry young (the majority by age 16 in rural areas), and average 7 live births. About half of all Senegalese women live in polygynous unions. In urban areas women encounter somewhat less discrimination and are active in government, political life, the legal profession, and business. About 14 percent of Senegalese lawyers are women. Urban women are more likely to take advantage of the Government's efforts to increase respect for women's legal rights to divorce, alimony, child support, and to seek education and employment. In general, urban women receive equal pay for equal work. Children The Ministry of Women, Children, and the Family, established in 1990, has the responsibility for promoting children's welfare. Numerous organizations assist the Ministry in support of children's rights, including the Ministry of Health which began a nationwide effort focusing on child survival in 1995. To this end, the Government enjoyed some success in increasing hospital services in outlying regions and introducing lower priced generic drugs into the marketplace. Less than a year into the program, government officials reported a nationwide increase in birth weights. The 1995 fall school term marked the beginning of a government effort to increase nationwide the number of classrooms and encourage more children, particularly females, to enter and stay in school. There are no laws or regulations concerning female genital mutilation (FGM), which is widely condemned by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health. However, the Ministry of Women, Children, and the Family sponsors programs to educate women to the dangers of FGM. FGM is not practiced by Senegal's largest ethnic group, the Wolofs (representing 43 percent of the population), but it is performed on girls belonging to some other ethnic groups. Infibulation, the most extreme and dangerous form of FGM, is practiced by the Toucouleur and Peulh ethnic groups. Approximately 6 percent of females are believed to have undergone this procedure. People with Disabilities There is no official discrimination against disabled persons. There are no laws that mandate accessibility for the disabled, and in practice most persons with disabilities are generally unable to participate in many occupations due to physical barriers and a lack of equipment and training opportunities that would make such participation possible. Religious Minorities Approximately 92 percent of the population are Muslim. There are small Christian (2 percent) and indigenous (6 percent) religious communities. Officially, 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 protections and advantages. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association The Constitution and the Labor Code provide all workers with the right of association, and they are free to form or join unions. A minimum of seven persons, each having worked in 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. While the Ministry does not always grant initial recognition to a union, once it gives recognition, the Ministry virtually never withdraws it. It may, however, disband a union if its activities deviate from its charter. The Labor Code does not apply to the informal and agricultural sectors where most people work. Although 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 4 million is almost totally unionized. The only union in the agrarian sector is one representing workers at a privately owned sugar company. Some farmers are organized into the National Farming Association, an advocacy organization. The National Confederation of Senegalese Workers (CNTS), the largest union organization, has close ties to the ruling Socialist Party (PS), and union members hold a considerable number of government positions. One is a PS minister, and four others hold PS seats in Parliament. While ostensibly an independent organization, the umbrella CNTS has consistently supported government policies. The rival to the CNTS is the National Union of Autonomous Labor Unions of Senegal (UNSAS). UNSAS is a federation of strategically important unions such as those of electricians, telecommunication workers, teachers, water technicians, and hospital, railroad, and sugar workers. 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. There were numerous legal--but no illegal--strikes in 1995. Regulations prohibit employers from retaliating against legal strikers, and these regulations are enforced through the Labor Court. 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. 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 prevented from exercising the right to organize and bargain collectively. The Ministry of Labor can intervene in disputes between labor and management if requested, and it plays a mediation role in the private and state enterprise sectors. Labor laws apply to all industrial firms including those in the Dakar Industrial Free Trade Zone. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor There were no reports of forced labor, which 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 small formal wage sector, which includes state-owned corporations, large private enterprises, and cooperatives. However, children under the age of 15 frequently work in the much larger traditional or informal sectors, 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 Ministries of Labor and Finance determine wage rates after negotiating with the unions and management councils. The minimum wage of less than $.40 per hour (202 CFA franc), last negotiated in 1989, is not adequate to support a worker and a family. Within the formal sector, the law mandates: a standard workweek of 40 to 48 hours for most occupations, with at least one 24-hour rest period and 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 and are supervised by inspectors from the Ministry of Labor. However, the authorities' enforcement is uneven, especially outside the formal sector. There is no explicit legal protection 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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