Population: 11.7 million (5.8 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 13,600
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 20
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 3 March 2004
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ACRWC, ICC

There were no reports of under-18s in the armed forces. No recent information on the use of child soldiers by an armed group was available.


In June 2004 the Senegalese government announced a general amnesty for members of the armed group Democratic Forces of Casamance Movement (Mouvement des forces démocratiques de Casamance, MFDC), despite the human rights abuses and other crimes it had committed during the conflict. Members of the Senegalese armed forces also benefited from impunity for human rights violations carried out in Casamance.1 Following a new peace agreement signed in December 2004 between the government and the main wing of the MFDC, reconstruction work and de-mining began in the Casamance region. However, implementation of the agreement was hampered by disagreement between rival MFDC factions. The extent of government support for implementation of the agreement was also unclear.2

Sporadic fighting in Casamance resumed in 2006.3 Clashes between the dissident MFDC Sadio, which had crossed the border into Guinea-Bissau, and members of the Guinea-Bissau army led to the displacement of more than 8,000 people in the border regions during March 2006.4 Fighting between MFDC Sadio and the Senegalese armed forces in August 2006 led nearly 4,000 people to flee to Gambia.5 In May 2006 it was reported that MFDC Sadio was laying mines in the areas it occupied.6 Several attacks attributed to the group took place in northern Casamance in February 2007,7 coinciding with presidential elections, when the incumbent, Abdoulaye Wade, was re-elected.

An estimated 3,000-5,000 people died during the 22-year conflict.8 In January 2005 it was reported that 659 people, mostly women and children, had been the victims of mine-related incidents.9


National recruitment legislation and practice

The 2001 constitution stated that the rights and duties of citizens during war would be the subject of an implementing law (Article 70). Recruits to the armed forces had to be between 18 and 21 years of age; the period of military service was 24 months, after which the recruit could choose to remain in the armed forces or to be placed on the reserve list.10 In its declaration on ratifying the Optional Protocol, the government stated that it had raised the minimum age for regular conscription to 20.11

There were no reports of under-18s in the armed forces.

Armed Groups:

The number of active MFDC combatants was not known; no factions were known actively to have recruited new members in recent years. The extent to which children were associated with the MFDC was not documented, although it appeared that there was no widespread recruitment of children.

Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR):

The December 2004 peace agreement called for the demobilization and disarmament of MFDC fighters, and the government committed itself to their integration on a voluntary basis within government paramilitary forces. No attempt to implement the agreement appeared to have been made by March 2007.

None of the peace agreements signed between the government and the MFDC made any reference to the demobilization of child soldiers.12


The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern that the physical, psychological and social needs of children affected by the conflict in Casamance had not been sufficiently addressed, and that landmines continued to pose a risk to children. It urged the government to take all appropriate measures to address these issues.13

1 Amnesty International Report 2005.

2 Confidential sources, Senegal, May 2007.

3 Amnesty International Report 2007.

4 European Community Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), Aide humanitaire d'urgence en faveur des populations Bissau guinéennes et sénégalaises affectées par le conflit de Casamance, 19 May 2006, ECHO/-WF/BUD/2006/03000.

5 Diadie Ba, "Thousands flee south Senegal fighting", Reuters Foundation, 25 August 2006.

6 "Senegal", World Food Programme Emergency Report, 19 May 2006, www.reliefweb.int.

7 "Senegal: Casamance fighting allegedly linked to elections", IRIN, 21 February 2007.

8 Martin Evans, "Senegal: Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de la Casamance (MFDC)", briefing paper, Armed Non-state Actors Project, Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, December 2004.

9 Reliefweb, "West Africa: Report on the Humanitarian Situation No. 12: January 2005", http://reliefweb.int.

10 Initial report of Senegal to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.31, 17 October 1994.

11 Senegal's declaration on the Optional Protocol, www2.ohchr.org.

12 Confidential source, Senegal, July 2007.

13 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, consideration of Second periodic report of Senegal, UN Doc. CRC/C/SEN.2, Concluding observations, UN Doc CRC/C/SEN/CO/2, 20 October 2006.


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