The death penalty was abolished in 2005. Since the country’s independence in 1960, two individuals have been executed (in 1967).
In November 2013, MP Seydina Fall announced his intention to present a bill seeking to reinstate the death penalty. Ever since, the debate about the reinstatement of the death penalty continues to gain ground. The Minister of Justice, Sidiki Kaba, ruled out the possibility of reinstating this penalty during his October 2016 speech before the Council of Ministers.
Deaths in detention
The Directorate of Prison Administration (Direction de l’administration pénitentiaire, DAP) reports the deaths of 50 prisoners in 2015.
HIV and tuberculosis are the principal causes of death. The DAP’s report notes one case of suicide in detention in 2015.
The prison administration conceals cases of death caused by acts of torture and ill-treatment. When staff are incriminated, investigations are ineffective and sanctions are not proportionate to the gravity of the offences.
Human rights organizations suspect that the prisoner reported to have committed suicide in 2015 died in reality as a result of injuries inflicted by guards. To date, no investigation has enabled the actual cause of his death to be verified.
Ibrahim Mbow, an inmate at Rebeuss Prison (in Dakar), died during a mutiny on 20 September, 2016.
Number of deaths
/ Dir. of Penitentiary Adm.
Number of deaths attributed to suicide
/ Dir. of Penitentiary Adm.
The prohibition of torture is set out in Senegal’s Penal Code. Violations are punishable by five to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of CFA100,000 to 500,000 (USD161 to 807). Penalties will be “reduced where the blows and injuries have not caused ill health or the inability to work” (clause 296 of the Penal Code).
The definition of torture set out in the penal code does not include acts aimed at obtaining information, punishing, intimidating, or applying pressure on a third party (Article 295-1).
Investigations of torture are rarely fruitful. Only six of the 27 cases documented by Amnesty International since 2007 have resulted in convictions - with a lenient punishment in every case1.
The penal code allows judges to accept confessions obtained under torture. In practice, the majority of judges reject them. The judge can annul an act if the circumstances in which confessions have been obtained appear suspicious.
CheikhDiop and CheikhSidatyMané, in pre-trial imprisonment since 2012 for the assassination of a police officer, were sentenced in 2015 to 20 years’ hard labour by the Dakar Court of Assizes. Amnesty International picked up the case and supported the version of the accused, who asserted that they were subjected to acts of torture during their questioning. The Dakar Appeals Court terminated proceedings in July 2016.
The majority of acts of ill-treatment and torture are inflicted in police custody. Most often, they take the form of beatings. There is little judicial oversight of police officers. Investigations are conducted at a slow pace and rarely result in a conviction.
In 2015, at least two people died in police custody following acts of torture.
Amadou Dame Ka died on February 2 at the Thiès central police station.
Boubacar Ndong was found dead on November 15 at the gendarmerie in Hann (Dakar).
Ibrahim Diallo, a Gambian national in his thirties, died during the night of 12 to 13 July, 2016. “Serious allegations of torture and ill-treatment – cries appear to have been heard at the gendarmerie during the night of 12 to 13 July– have been gathered by our organizations from persons present at the scene,” state the African Assembly for the Defence of Human Rights (RADDHO), the Senegalese Human Rights League, and Amnesty International in a press release.
The prison administration and the National Observatory of Places of Deprivation of Liberty (l’Observateur national des lieux de privation de liberté), the Senegalese national preventive mechanism, regularly organize training sessions and conferences on the theme of preventing torture. The International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (Fédération internationale de l’Action des chrétiens pour l’abolition de la torture, FIACAT) and Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture Senegal (Action des chrétiens pour l’abolition de la tourture Sénégal, ACAT) regret that beneficiaries are, for the most part, managerial staff of the prison administration and members of civil society, i.e. individuals who are only rarely in contact with the prison population. They invite the authorities to offer these workshops to the rest of the prison administration staff, which “guarantees on a day-by-day basis the respect of fundamental guarantees in detention”1.