Saturday, May 7, 2011

Senegal Human Rights Assessment 2010


President Wade
1. FAIR JUSTICE

1.1 Judicial system capability.
The judicial system is not true to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights as far as the respect of prisoners dignity is concerned.[1]

Magistrates continued to publicly criticize their working conditions, including overwhelming case loads, lack of equipment, and inadequate transportation. Magistrates also openly questioned the government's commitment to judicial independence.[2]

Judicial backlogs and absenteeism of judges contributed to long pretrial detention periods. Despite the six‑month limit on detention for most crimes, the average time between charging and trial was two years. 2

1.2 Legal assistance to persons living in poverty.
In the first 48 hours of detention, the accused has no access to an attorney but has the right to a medical exam and possible access to family; however, family access was not generally allowed. The accused has the right to an attorney at the accused's expense after this initial period of detention. Attorneys are provided at public expense to all criminal defendants who cannot afford one. A number of NGOs also provided legal assistance or counseling to those charged with crimes.2

1.3 Justice for women and juveniles.
There is no official competent organisation to insure fair justice for women and juveniles.   Children can be sent to jail at age 10. There are no special procedures used for domestic violence and family dysfunction.1

Rape was a widespread problem. The law prohibits rape, but not spousal rape; however, the government rarely enforced the law. Ministry of Justice statistics estimate that 47 percent of accused rapists go unpunished and released without going to trial. According to APROFES, a women's NGO, there were 195 documented cases of rape and sexual abuse during the year.

Domestic violence, including spousal abuse, was a widespread problem. The law criminalizes assaults and provides for a punishment of one to five years in prison and a fine. If the victim is a woman, the prison term and fine are both increased. 2

Trafficking in and through the country was significant, especially with regard to child begging. Talibes were trafficked from neighboring countries, including The Gambia, Mali, Guinea, and Guinea‑Bissau. Young girls were trafficked from villages to urban centers for work as underage domestics.2

Under the law, those who recruit, transport, transfer, or harbor persons, whether by means of violence, fraud, abuse of authority, or otherwise for the purposes of sexual exploitation, labor, forced servitude, or slavery are subject to punishment of five to 10 years' imprisonment and a fine of five to 20 million CFAF (approximately $10,000 to $40,000). The government did not effectively enforce the law. Most government efforts to combat trafficking in persons were centered in the Ministry of Women, Family, Social Development, and Women's Entrepreneurship. The ministry operated the Ginddi Center in Dakar, a children's center where child trafficking victims received nutritional, medical, and other assistance. With assistance from a foreign government, the police have established a trafficking‑in‑persons database. There were no government programs to protect or assist trafficked women.2

1.4 Unfair treatment by discrimination.
In Senegal judicial procedure entails some prejudices. There are biases involving nationality, religion, social status and political opinion. 1

The constitution provides that men and women are equal under the law and prohibits all forms of discrimination. However, gender discrimination was widespread in practice, and antidiscrimination laws often were not enforced.2

1.5 Arbitrary or severe penalties.
There are extra -legal and arbitrary penalties. There is no legal death penalty in Senegal;  however, there is  life sentence without possibility of parole. 1

2.  PRISON SYSTEMS BASICS

2.1 Structures and alternatives.
There are graduations of confinement with different levels of security. There also are alternative       punishments rather than prison; e.g., the offender may pay a fine. 1

2.2 Physical space and separations.
Over crowding is a major problem in Senegal prisons. According to the survey of April 2003, we have 5887 prisoners in jails built for 2972 people. This overcrowding is partly due to the weakness of the judicial system and lack of money. Prisoners are piled in the wells. We may have ten or dozen people crowded in 10 square meters (10m²). There is one mat for five, one bed for 17, one bathroom for everybody and one TV set for 394 people.  We have 3 types of prisons in Senegal: Prison for men, Prison for women, and Prison for children. 1

Prison and detention center conditions were poor, in part because no prisons have been built since the colonial era. The National Organization for Human Rights (ONDH) identified overcrowding and lack of adequate sanitation as major problems. Dakar's Central Prison, which had a maximum capacity of 700 persons, held approximately 1,400, while the penal camp in Dakar, which had a capacity of 400, held an estimated 800 detainees. Human rights activists noted that Nioro Prison was severely overcrowded and resembled "a chicken coop" more than a prison. Detainees in Diourbel were sometimes held in a former horse stable; detention conditions in Tambacounda were also extremely poor.2

As part of a three-year investment plan, government funds were provided to prisons for renovations and refurbishment. During the year Dakar's central prison received new mattresses and inmates were able to create more space by building bunk beds. The ONDH, which visited six prisons during the year, reported that the Diourbel Prison also received new mattresses.2

2.3 Pretrial services and process.
There are no pretrial services. 1

2.4 Standards.
There are official written manuals of prison procedures, but they are not enforced at all, or applied efficiently. Prisons are regularly visited by judges. 1

3. PROTECTION OF INCARCERATED PERSONS
                                                                                                                                                                                      
3.1 Grievances.
Incarcerated persons are not able to make complaints to the central prison authority. NGOs and journalists don’t have the right to visit or take pictures in the prisons. Religious organisations are the only ones allowed to visit prison.1

3.2 Abuse of incarcerated persons.
There’s no policy for human treatment in keeping with the dignity of every human person. Corporal punishment and torture, cruel, and degrading treatments are prohibited officially. However, they are practiced secretly. Incarcerated persons are subject to threats and act of collective punishment. The prisoners who are abused or injured by law enforcement officials are not given adequate compensation and support. The state is a party to relevant international and regional human rights instrument. Senegalese authorities have supported the adoption of the optional protocol to UNCAT, to create an international visiting mechanism with the mandate to visit all places where people are deprived of their liberty. 1

3.3 Sexual security.
Incarcerated women and men are protected from sexual abuse by overseers and other prisoners. Homosexuality is not a major issue in the prisons. 1

Local NGOs reported that the rape of female prisoners was a serious issue not addressed by government authorities during the year.2

3.4 Correctional Officers.
Correctional officers are not trained for their responsibilities. 1

4. HEALTH SERVICES FOR INCARCERATED PERSONS

4.1 Health Care.
Prison authorities do not provide adequate health care for incarcerated persons. Overcrowding is a serious health hazard. 1

Prisons lacked doctors and medicine. The ONDH reported a national ratio of one doctor per 5,000 inmates and that the government spent only 450 CFAF (approximately $1) a day per inmate to cover all costs including medical care. There was one mattress for every five detainees. Due to an old and overburdened infrastructure, prisons experienced drainage problems during the rainy season and stifling heat during the summer. Prisons also were infested by bugs, and prisoners suffered sexual assault and extremely low quality food.2

4.2 Women-Care.
Though women have gynecological and pediatric care before and after giving birth, the institution has financial problems which prevent them from taking care of women effectively. 1

4.3 Mental Illness and Addictions.
The emotionally disturbed and mentally ill are not given special treatment by competent staff. 1

5.    RESTORATIVE PRACTICES

5.1 Rehabilitation Programs.
Prisons have vocational educational programs and religion classes. In the jail we have many different workshops where prisoners work. They are not paid for the work that they do. 1

5.2 Reentry Programs.
There is no pre-release or re-entry assistance for incarcerated persons. 1

6.    SOCIAL RIGHTS OF INCARCERATED PERSONS

6.1 Voting.
Pretrial and / or sentenced persons do not have the right to vote; however their voting rights are automatically restored upon release. 1

6.2 Visitation.
Sentenced persons have the right to receive visits from their relatives, but these visits are not organised by prison authorities. There are no mail or telephone services for families. All the volunteers, of all religions, are encouraged. 1

During the year the government permitted prison visits by local and international human rights groups, which also provided humanitarian support to inmates.2  Source: internationalcure.com

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