Republic of Senegal
Head of state: Macky Sall
Head of government: Mohammed Dionne

The authorities continued to restrict the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. Prisons remained overcrowded. Although several police officers were convicted of unlawful killings, impunity remained a concern. Men and women faced arrest because of their real or perceived sexual orientation. Despite efforts to reduce the number of children begging on the streets, impunity for child exploitation and child abuse persisted.


In May the capital, Dakar, hosted the Extraordinary African Chambers which sentenced former Chadian President Hissène Habré to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990.

Amendments to the Constitution were adopted following a referendum in March, including one which reduced the presidential mandate to five years.


The authorities banned peaceful demonstrations and arrested demonstrators.

In October, the security forces fired tear gas to disperse a peaceful demonstration organized by the opposition. The Prefect of Dakar had justified a decision to impose an alternative route on the march on the basis of a 2011 decree banning all assemblies in parts of the city centre.


Journalists and artists who expressed dissent, including through their choice of clothing, were subjected to intimidation, harassment and arbitrary detention.

In February, Mamadou Mouth Bane, journalist and President of the social movement Jubanti, was detained for more than 12 hours at the Police Department of Criminal Investigation for comments deemed "seditious" made on television in the run-up to a constitutional referendum. He was later released without charge.

In June, rapper Ramatoulaye Diallo, also known as Déesse Major, was detained for three days and charged with "indecency" and "offending moral principles" for her choice of clothing in videos posted on social media. All charges were dropped and she was released.

At least two people were detained in Dakar for insulting religion.


The National Assembly adopted amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure which could be used to stifle dissent. The amendments provide vague and broad definitions of terrorism-related offences, criminalize the production and dissemination of "immoral material" online and empower the authorities to restrict access to "illicit content" online.

Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure violated the right to personal liberty by extending to 12 days the period that people can be detained before appearing before a judge in terrorism-related cases. The amendments also undermined the right to fair trial by failing to provide that people should have access to a lawyer as soon as they are deprived of their liberty.

At least 30 people were in detention for terrorism-related offences. Several detainees raised concerns about the conditions of their arrest and detention. For example, Imam Ndao, who remained in pre-trial detention throughout the year on various charges including "acts of terrorism" and "glorifying terrorism", was only allowed out of his cell for 30 minutes a day.


Prisons remained overcrowded. Some 2,090 people were held in Rebeuss Prison in Dakar, which has a maximum capacity of 1,600.

At least six people died in custody in 2016, including a prison guard who was shot during a mutiny at Rebeuss Prison in September. Forty-one others were wounded, including 14 prison guards.


After protracted legal proceedings, there were breakthroughs in four cases of unlawful killings by the security forces. However, no commanding officers were held to account for failing to prevent excessive use of force and no one was brought to justice for the dozens of other cases of torture, unlawful killings and deaths in custody since 2007.

In January, the driver of the police vehicle that killed student Mamadou Diop during a peaceful pre-election demonstration in 2012 was sentenced to two years' imprisonment and fined for "assault causing death" and "intentional assault and battery." The co-driver was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for "failure to prevent a crime against physical integrity". The court also ordered the two policemen to pay damages to Mamadou Diop's relatives.

In June, a policeman who shot Bassirou Faye during a peaceful demonstration at the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar in August 2014 was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 20 years' hard labour and ordered to pay damages to Bassirou Faye's family.

In June, a policeman was sentenced to two years' imprisonment in connection with the killing of Ndiaga Ndiaye, also known as Matar Ndiaye, who died after being shot in the leg during a police operation in 2015.

In July, four policemen were convicted of the killing of Ibrahima Samb in 2013 and sentenced to 10 years' hard labour. Ibrahima Samb suffocated after the officers locked him in the trunk of a car for over 16 hours.


At least seven men and one woman were detained in relation to their perceived sexual orientation.

In January, the Dakar Court of Appeal acquitted seven men of "acts against nature." They had been arrested in July 2015 and sentenced in August 2015 to 18 months' imprisonment with 12 months suspended.


In July, the government launched an operation to remove children from the streets. However, the authorities continued to fail to fully implement laws criminalizing child exploitation and abuse, with few cases investigated or prosecuted.

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