News / Africa

Rights Group says Senegal's Security Forces Torture With Impunity

Drew Hinshaw

Human-rights group Amnesty International says Senegal's security forces are continuing to torture prisoners, while its ministers of state continue to block investigations of those claims. A Senegal government spokesman would not confirm or deny the details of the report.

For much of the republic's 50-year history, Senegal's security forces have been perceived as a pillar of the country's uniquely democratic traditions.

Unlike its neighbors Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, and nearly every other West African state, the country has never experienced a coup d'etat, and its soldiers rank among U.N. peacekeeping forces the world over.

But in a report published in Dakar, human-rights group Amnesty International said the positive reputation of Senegal's security forces masks a culture of impunity and brutality that Senegalese ministries refuse to investigate.

Security forces in the former French colony, they say, have unlawfully and often haphazardly detained and tortured prisoners, sometimes to point of death

Researcher Salvatore Sagues cites six prisoners he says died in custody, allegedly as a result of torture.

"Very few of the people responsible for these acts are being brought to trial and are being sentenced," Sagues said. "In some cases, the people allegedly responsible of these cases are merely transferred to another police station, which is a very bad sign because it shows to the family that people will not be punished, and it shows to the security forces that they can continue torturing people without being held to account."

Sagues said lawyers seeking to investigate cases implicating police and soldiers must first obtain prosecution orders from the Armed Forces or Interior Ministry.

"This prosecution order very often arrives very late or never, which means that the executive power has a de-facto veto forbidding, preventing the ministry of justice to open inquiries," he added.

Analysts say the report is a sign that Senegal's liberal reputation is at odds with its poor performance on many human-rights indicators.

A May study by research group Afrobarometer reported that less a third of Senegalese citizens told pollsters that they lived in a "real democracy."

That is the lowest percentage of 20 African countries studied except Zimbabwe and Madagascar.

Sagues says such problems are a long legacy of a government that never fully came to terms with what he called "massive human-rights abuses" committed during the military's 30-year campaign against separatists.

An offer of amnesty to soldiers accused of those abuses stifled any meaningful investigation on behalf of the victims and their family, he said.

"This amnesty was promulgated before any investigation, which means the amnesty is just some sort of let us forget what happened," Sagues said. "There are many people who are still wounded either mentally or physically as a result of this conflict, who were never recognized as victims, who never received reparations, and this is just unbearable for them."

Sagues said if Senegal seeks to convince the world that it is dedicated to human rights, it can start by trying former Chadian leader Hissene Habre. The ex-military leader is accused of orchestrating 40,000 killings during his eight year tenure. In a meeting Tuesday with Amnesty International, Sagues says the Justice Ministry reported being 95 percent ready to start the trial.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid