Responding to protests held in Dakar on 4 February, Samira Daoud, Director of Amnesty International’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa, said:
“After protests erupted in Dakar on Sunday as demonstrators opposed the suspension of the presidential elections process, Amnesty International calls on the authorities and security forces to respect and protect the right to peaceful assembly and refrain from resorting to excessive use of force.
“The government’s abrupt shutdown of internet access via mobile data and Walf TV’s broadcasting, along with the revocation of its license, constitutes a blatant assault on the right to freedom of expression and press rights protected by Senegal’s constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Senegalese authorities must urgently protect and uphold peoples’ right to information.
“The authorities must also ensure that demonstrators and political opposition figures are not arbitrarily arrested at demonstrations.”
On 3 February, President Macky Sall announced the suspension of presidential elections, originally scheduled for 25 February 2024. The political opposition rejected the suspension of the upcoming presidential elections and called for demonstrations.
On 4 and 5 February, protests were held near the Saint-Lazare cemetery, Liberté VI and downtown Dakar. Police disrupted the gathering by firing teargas at them.
Aminata Touré and Anta Babacar Ngom, two opposition figures at the protests, were arrested and detained for several hours by the gendarmerie.
Senegal has obligations to respect the right to freedom of expression, including the right to information, and the right to peaceful assembly under articles 9 and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as under articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Between March 2021 and August 2023, at least 56 people were killed by the Senegalese police and gendarmerie during demonstrations. To date, no one has been prosecuted for these deaths.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Amnesty International.