Committee against Torture examines report of Senegal

| April 27, 2018

The Committee against Torture this afternoon completed its consideration of the fourth periodic report of Senegal on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Coly Seck, introducing the report, highlighted that Senegal had invoked universal jurisdiction in matters of torture in 2007. The amendment of the custody regime and the adoption of new legal articles related to the Rome Statute further contributed to the consolidation of the legal framework for the protection of human rights. Following the signing of the 2012 agreement with the African Union establishing Extraordinary African Chambers within the national jurisdiction, and the 2013 judicial cooperation agreement with Chad, Senegal had successfully prosecuted and convicted the former President of Chad for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. Several measures had been adopted to improve the conditions of detention, including alternative sentencing, construction of new prisons, and the setting up of the National Observatory for places of detention in 2009 to complement the national preventive mechanism. Furthermore, Senegal had abolished the death penalty in 2004, adopted the law against human trafficking in 2005, and had strengthened the fight against female genital mutilation, which had resulted in a big reduction of this practice.

Committee Experts referred to the ongoing legal reform and urged Senegal to set the timetable for the adoption of amendments that would ensure compliance with the Convention, including in the definition of torture. An important point of concern was the systematic use of pre-trial detention � responsible for 45 per cent of all detentions - and the lack of effective application of fundamental safeguards for persons deprived of liberty. For example, the length of custody in the context of terrorism and State security could be up to 12 days, and a medical examination � another fundamental safeguard, particularly against torture and ill-treatment � had to be paid out of the detainee's own pocket if requested by a detainee. Places of detention suffered poor material conditions, overcrowding, and the systematic violation of human rights. There were very few lawyers in the country - some 350 lawyers and fewer than 500 magistrates, mostly concentrated in the capital � which jeopardized the effective enjoyment of fundamental safeguards throughout the national territory. Experts raised the issue of judicial independence, noting that as long as the President of the Republic was presiding over the High Council of the Judiciary, this important body would not be fully independent from the power of the executive. Experts congratulated Senegal for the conviction of Hissegrave;ne Habreacute;, the former President of Chad, for torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and urged it to make greater progress on the compensation and reparation for victims of those massive human rights violations.

In concluding remarks, Mr. Seck pledged Senegal's strong commitment to the continued effective implementation of the Convention against Torture.

Jens Modvig, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation of Senegal for their articulate and well-organized responses.

The delegation of Senegal consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and for Senegalese Abroad, Ministry of Interior, Ministry for Armed Forces, Ministry of Health and Social Action, Penitentiary Administration Dakar, and the Permanent Mission of Senegal to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will issue the concluding observations on the report of Senegal at the end of its sixty-third session on 18 May 2018. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee's work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session's webpage.

Source: United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)

Category: Medical/Health Care

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