Reacting to the violence that broke out yesterday in Dakar and other towns following the verdict in the trial of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said:
“We condemn the restrictions on accessing social media and the disruption of the signal of the private television channel Walf TV by the Senegalese authorities following the violent demonstrations that took place in Dakar, Ziguinchor and Kaolack, among other places. These restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and information constitute arbitrary measures contrary to international law and cannot be justified by security imperatives.
Arbitrary arrests must also cease immediately. We call on the Senegalese authorities to unconditionally release Aliou Sané, coordinator of Y’en a Marre, who has been detained since 29 May, as well as two members of FRAPP, Bentaleb Sow, detained since 31 May, and Tapha Diop, who was arrested on his way to the Foire gendarmerie to enquire as to the whereabouts of those being detained.Samira Daoud, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Amnesty International
Seydi Gassama, Executive Director of Amnesty Senegal, also stated:
“We further call on the Senegalese authorities to conduct credible and independent investigations into the deaths that occurred during the demonstrations in Dakar and Ziguinchor. We would remind the Senegalese authorities that force must only be used where necessary and in a proportionate manner. Everyone’s life and physical integrity must be respected and protected by the forces of law and order.”
On Thursday 1 June, political opponent Ousmane Sonko was sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment on a charge of corrupting young people. Following this announcement, spontaneous and violent demonstrations broke out that same day in a number of towns, including Dakar, Ziguinchor and Kaolack. According to the government, nine people lost their lives.
Aliou Sané, leader of Y’en a Marre and a member of the Forces Vives de la Nation (F24) platform was arrested on 29 May in Dakar as he was trying to visit Ousmane Sonko, who has been prevented from leaving his home since Sunday. He was taken to the Public Prosecutor’s office the following day and charged with, among other things, taking part in an undeclared demonstration, public gathering and disturbance of the peace. FRAPP member Bentaleb Sow was arrested at his home in Colobane on 31 May. He is being held at the national gendarmerie in Colobane. moustapha Diop, another FRAPP member, was arrested on 1 June as he tried to check on the detainees and was taken into custody at the Foire gendarmerie.
Cases of excessive use of force resulting in the deaths of 14 people in March 2021, two people in June 2022, and at least two people in May 2023 including a police officer, have thus far gone unpunished.