The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) is following with interest the development of the situation in the Republic of Senegal. It is particularly concerned by the latest incidents that have taken place in recent days, including the firing of tear gas at a delegation led by Deputy Mayor Guy Marius Sagna, by Senegalese law enforcement officials as it attempted to visit the home of opposition politician Ousmane Sonko, who has been prevented from leaving his home by a cordon of law enforcement officials since the evening of Tuesday, March 14, without any formal house arrest ordered by the courts.
The deputy mayor of Dakar, Mr. Sagna, was reportedly injured in the leg as a result of this incident.
The Commission is deeply concerned about the various clashes between demonstrators and police forces that took place in several suburbs of the capital and in the provinces on Wednesday 15 March until late in the evening, including in the city of Keur Gorgui where Mr. Ousmane Sonko lives.
According to the information received, the police had the mission to prevent any gathering of supporters of Mr. Ousmane Sonko. Thus, heavily equipped police officers were deployed in the morning.
This Thursday 16 March, Mr. Ousmane Sonko was expected to appear before the criminal court in Dakar in a defamation suit brought by Mr. Mame Mbaye Niang, the Minister of Tourism, whom he accused of embezzlement.
As a reminder, a month ago, Mr Sonko was taken home by police officers who broke the window of his car as he returned from court, following the first hearing in this trial, the scene was broadcast live on social networks.
The Commission strongly condemns the violence that took place and the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers against civilians. It would like to recall that freedom of movement and demonstration are guaranteed by Articles 11 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter), as well as the right to a fair trial which includes the respect of the presumption of innocence (Article 7 of the African Charter).
The African Commission calls on the Senegalese authorities to take all necessary measures to restore calm and stability by refraining from the use of force. It also encourages the demonstrators to express their disagreement in strict compliance with the rules provided by the law.
Finally, it requests that the Senegalese State comply with the provisions of the African Charter to which it is a party, as well as the Guiding Principles on the Policing Assemblies in Africa.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR).