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

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid