Year2016

Contact with the outside world

As a general rule, visits take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A visitor permit must be obtained before arriving at the prison. Once there, the visitor must show an identification document with a photo. An entry number is given to each visitor. Visits do not last long, often only a few minutes, and take place in areas that are unsuitable for such purposes, such as a noisy yard.

Maintaining family ties is difficult. Families are not systematically informed of their relative’s imprisonment. Some refuse to go to the prison, citing a feeling of shame. The lack of facilities suitable for receiving visits dissuades families from bringing their children.

Only convicted prisoners are permitted to make calls, and only to local numbers. It is not possible for either remand prisoners or convicted prisoners to receive them.

Letters addressed to inmates are all subject to censorship and are read by staff before being distributed.

Packages must not contain razors, cutting implements, computers, tobacco, alcohol, metal objects or containers, pornographic magazines, mobile telephones, or prepaid cards.

Only two forms of sentence adjustment are practised in Senegal: presidential pardon and conditional release. Alternative sentences to imprisonment are still rare, even for non-violent offences.

The presidential pardon is an annual tradition in Senegal. The president of the Republic has pardoned nearly 7,000 prisoners since coming to power in 2012. On the 4 April 2014, he pardoned 481 people imprisoned in different institutions. Individuals in pre-trial imprisonment are not eligible for presidential pardon.

In December 2013, the Ministry of Justice granted conditional release to 800 prisoners who had served at least half their sentence.

Individuals without sufficient financial resources can benefit from the legal assistance of an appointed solicitor. The service is nevertheless inadequate: solicitors are not very assiduous and rarely communicate with their clients. The HCDH and AJS report notes that half the women interviewed did not know the name of their appointed solicitor and were not informed of the progress of their case.

In numerous cases, the duration of pre-trial imprisonment exceed that of the sentence incurred. For criminal offences, there is no fixed maximum duration for pre-trial imprisonment. The risks that the duration of pre-trial imprisonment will exceed that of the sentence handed down are higher when the remand prisoner lacks the means to fund his or her defence.

The average duration of pre-trial imprisonment is two years. The lack of material and financial means, of transport or prison escorts to take remand prisoners to hearings, and the repeated absence of judges are the root cause of this serious disorder. On 27 October, 2014, the National Assembly passed a bill concerning the amendment of the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. It provided for the conversion of the Courts of Assize, which sit in sessions, into permanent courts of criminal appeal. The Court of Appeal in Ziguinchor began operating on 29 September, 2016. It will deal with cases in the Ziguichor, Kolda and Sédhiou regions and should relieve congestion at the Dakar Court of Appeal,which deals with such cases.

Complaints addressed to judges by prisoners are blocked by prison staff. The Senegalese Human Rights Committee (Comité sénégalais des droits de l’homme) is the institution responsible for dealing with prisoners’ complaints. Its credibility has been called into question because it lacks funding and does not meet regularly. Its last report dates from 2010.

Senegal signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) in 2006. The national preventive mechanism (NPM), the National Observatory of Places of Deprivation of Liberty (l’Observateur national des lieux de privation de liberté, ONLPL), was established in 2009. Boubou Diouf Tall, the first Senegalese national observer, was appointed in 2012 when the ONLPL began its work1.

The ONLPL’s independence is questioned due to its falls under the Ministry of Justice. The institution struggles to fulfil its brief because it receives little in the way of state funding and its staff are unpaid2.

The ONLPL investigated at least two complaints made by prisoners in 2014. A report on prison living conditions and the excessive length of pre-trial imprisonment was subsequently submitted to the Ministry of Justice. Following these investigations, proceedings were brought against two guards for ill-treatment.

The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights lent its support to the ONLPL during field visits and when lobbying the national authorities.

In July 2016, the Senegalese NPM participated in the Summer University organised by the Association for the Prevention of Torture and the Human Rights Institute of Lyon (l’Institut des Droits de l’Homme de Lyon, IDHL).

Observateur national des lieux de privation de liberté

54, Avenue Georges Pompidou Immeuble Yoro LAM - 1er étage B.P: 36045 Dakar Bulding

Tel: (221) 33 823 69 43 Email: [email protected] Website: www.onlpl.sn

The government allows national and international human rights organizations to provide assistance in prisons. As with visits by the ONLPL, visits must be arranged in advance. All organizations must request an appointment in advance from the prison administration. Some prison areas are off-limits: the cells, the toilets, and the solitary confinement cells. Taking photos of the prisons’ interior is also prohibited.


  1. APT, Boubou Diouf Tall, Observateur national des lieux de privation de liberté du Sénégal (Boubou Diouf Tall, National Observer of Places of Deprivation of Liberty) (only in French) 

  2. FIACAT, Évaluation de l’Observatoire national des lieux de privation de liberté sénégalais (Evaluation of the National Observatory of Places of Deprivation of Liberty), 06/2012 (only in French)