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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

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In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                    

Republic of Senegal

Individuals are generally protected from the illegitimate use of physical force. However, Senegalese prisons are overcrowded, and human rights groups have documented incidents of excessive force and cruel treatment by prison authorities.

  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Senegal

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Senegal.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Senegal

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 5 August 2021]


Human rights organizations noted examples of physical abuse committed by authorities, including excessive use of force as well as cruel and degrading treatment in prisons and detention facilities. In particular they criticized strip search and interrogation methods. Police reportedly forced detainees to sleep on bare floors, directed bright lights at them, beat them with batons, and kept them in cells with minimal access to fresh air. Investigations, however, often were unduly prolonged and rarely resulted in charges or indictments.


Physical Conditions: Overcrowding was endemic. For example, Dakar’s main prison facility, Rebeuss, held more than twice the number of inmates for which it was designed.

Poor and insufficient food, limited access to medical care, stifling heat, poor drainage, and insect infestations also were problems throughout the prison system. On February 20, an inmate passed away at Mbour Prison. According to official reports, he suffered an acute asthma attack due to being held in an overcrowded cell holding 87 other inmates.


Pretrial Detention: According to 2018 UN statistics, 45 percent of the prison population consisted of pretrial detainees. In late 2019 the country’s authorities reported the percentage to be 42 percent. A majority of defendants awaiting trial are held in detention. The law states an accused person may not be held in pretrial detention for more than six months for minor crimes; however, authorities routinely held persons in custody until a court ordered their release. Judicial backlogs and absenteeism of judges resulted in an average delay of two years between the filing of charges and the beginning of a trial. In cases involving murder charges, threats to state security, and embezzlement of public funds, there were no limits on the length of pretrial detention. In many cases pretrial detainees were held longer than the length of sentence later imposed.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Individuals are generally protected from the illegitimate use of physical force. However, Senegalese prisons are overcrowded, and human rights groups have documented incidents of excessive force and cruel treatment by prison authorities.

Senegal: Land of impunity

Amnesty International AI, 15 September 2010, Index number: AFR 49/001/2010

Download Report at

[accessed 13 January 2019]

THE USE OF TORTURE SANCTIONED BY THE JUSTICE SYSTEM -- The impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of acts of torture and other serious human rights violations is all the more deep-rooted in Senegal because judicial proceedings against members of the security forces can only take place with the authorization of the Minister of the Interior (in the case of police officers) and the Ministry of Defence (in the case of gendarmes and military personnel). 

In addition, the public prosecutor generally refuses to open investigations when victims or lawyers allege torture during custody or preventive detention, which is contrary to article 12 of the Convention Against Torture, which states that:  “Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

An even more worrying aspect is that judges regularly rely on “confessions” extracted under torture to sentence the accused to long prison sentences.

The use of “confessions” extracted under torture to convict the accused is normal practice in Senegal and violates one of the essential provisions of the Convention Against Torture, ratified by Senegal in 1986. Article 15 of the Convention states that:

“Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made”.

“CONFESSIONS” EXTRACTED UNDER TORTURE: ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE FOR MANY SENEGALESE COURTS -- One of the tortured detainees told Amnesty International in February 2009: “Three auxiliary gendarmes took me into another office, they tied my hands behind my back and handcuffed me. They beat me with their belts and truncheons, one of them used a metal bar and hit me on the head, the shins and the knees. They told me to confess that I had participated in the demonstration on the previous day. I told them I wasn't there. They told me to talk, I told them that I would only answer questions. One of them said to me: 'Don't act the little intellectual here, this is not a university'.

One of the auxiliaries unplugged a computer cable and hit me with it several times. My body still bears the marks. They showed me two lists of students and asked me if I knew them. When I told them that I did not know them, they hit me again and pointed a gun at me, they threatened to shoot. They insisted that I talk and told me to confess that I burned down the Kédougou gendarmerie. The next moment, a gendarme presented me with a written statement, I asked to read it, one of them hit me on the nape of the neck with his gun and told me to stop acting as though I was an intellectual. I then signed the statement.

Then they gave me electric shocks in my ears, I cried out a lot, they insulted my mother. Then they gave me another electric shock, I screamed, another gendarme came in and said they had tortured me enough. They took off the handcuffs and put me stark naked in the cell. I spent five days and five nights in jail. During the first two days, gendarmes made us do push-ups between midnight and 4am. When were taken back to the cell, they threw cold water on our bodies if we even looked like dozing off.”

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. A/51/44, paras. 102-119 (1996)

[accessed 5 March 2013]

4. Subjects of concern

110. The Committee is disturbed by the numerous cases of torture that have been brought to its attention by non-governmental organizations of established credibility, and are also referred to in the State party's report, notably in paragraphs 12, 37 and 103.

111. While taking into account the particular problem of Casamance, which is threatening the integrity and security of the State, the Committee recalls that a democracy must, whatever the circumstances, ensure that only legitimate means are used to protect the security of the State, peace and stability.

112. The Committee is concerned that, in its report, the State party invokes a discrepancy between international and internal law to justify granting impunity for acts of torture on the basis of the amnesty laws.

113. The Committee is doubtful whether the provisions in force in Senegal can effectively ensure full respect for the fundamental rights of persons in police custody.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


Several people were tortured and otherwise ill-treated by security forces and at least two of them died in detention, reportedly as a result of torture.

In February, Ibrahima Fall was tortured and otherwise ill-treated after being arrested in Tivavouane while returning from a demonstration against President Wade’s candidacy. He was tortured by gendarmes who hit him with batons, water hoses and electric cables.

In February, Ousseynou Seck died after being tortured in custody. All the police officers implicated were arrested and were awaiting trial at the end of the year.

In August, Kécouta Sidibé, a man who was deaf and mute, died reportedly as a result of torture in custody in Kédougou after he was arrested for consuming Indian hemp. In December, the Kaolack Appeal Court declared the deputy commander of the Kédougou gendarmerie guilty of murder and he was arrested. An investigation into the involvement of five other gendarmes was in progress at the end of the year.


At least six people were killed by security forces during the pre-elections unrest.

In January, gendarmes (paramilitary police) used live ammunition against peaceful demonstrators in Podor. Two people were killed: Mamadou Sy and Bana Ndiaye, a woman aged around 60 who was not participating in the protest.

In January, Mamadou Diop was killed by a police vehicle during a peaceful demonstration at the Place de l’Obélisque in Dakar. An inquiry was opened but had not concluded by the end of the year


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 13 January 2019]

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Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 3   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 11 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The judiciary is independent by law, but poor pay and lack of tenure expose judges to external influences. Uncharged detainees are incarcerated without legal counsel far beyond the lengthy periods already permitted by law. Prison conditions are poor.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2013]

[accessed 5 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, there were occasional reports that government officials employed them.

Although human rights groups noted fewer examples of physical abuse committed by security forces, they claimed poor training and supervision led to cruel and degrading treatment in prisons and detention facilities. In particular, they criticized strip search and interrogation methods. The police criminal investigation division (DIC) often required suspects to wait six hours or more before actually questioning them and may hold people up to 24 hours before releasing them. Police also reportedly forced detainees to sleep on the floor without any bedding, direct bright-lights at their pupils, and beat them with batons.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Senegal",, [accessed <date>]