Senegal Crackdown – three dead, several arrested and journalists brutalised

Senegal’s political turmoil continued with deadly clashes between the police and protesters in cities across the country on Friday, February 9, 2024, with at least three people killed by the second day of protests, while a number of journalists were attacked.

The protests erupted after President Macky Sall postponed to December, elections that were originally scheduled or February 25, 2024. Mr. Macky Sall had instigated what many are calling a pretext vote in Parliament to effect the controversial postponement which allows him to overstay his mandate until the elections are held at a new future date.

The Interior Ministry announced Saturday that one student was killed at Gaston Berger University of Saint-Louis on the first day of the protests. The deceased was identified as Alpha Yéro Tounkara. The government however, denied any incursion into the university’s campus by the security forces and the Saint-Louis High Court has opened an investigation into the death of the student.

The second day saw two more deaths, according to several media reports. Sixteen year-old Landing Camara, alias Diedhiou, died Saturday February 9, at the Ziguinchor Regional Hospital after being injured in a confrontation between a group of youths and the security forces.

In the capital, Dakar, AFP reported that a 23-year-old market vendor, Modou Gueye, was shot during protests and later died of his injuries, also on the second day.

The Senegalese Press Agency, APS, reported that 17 protesters have been arrested in the southern town of Kolda. The number of arrests across the country is estimated at nearly 300. However, Human Rights Watch quoted human rights Lawyer, Amadou, as saying that he is representing “dozens of people” arrested in the Dakar region alone. “A number of them tell me they were beaten and brutalised by the security forces,” the lawyer continued.

Journalists covering the protests were also targeted by ill-tempered security officials. MFWA partner organisation in Senegal, Synpics – Syndicat Professionnels Information Communication Sénégal (SYNPICS) reported that at least three media professionals were assaulted by the police on Friday February 9. The victims included Moussa Diallo, cameraman with Satv, Mor Amar, a journalist with the Enquête newspaper and Absa Hane, a female reporter with Seneweb who was dragged into a police van and beaten unconscious.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) deplores the orgy of violence unleashed by security forces on civilians and the media. These attacks are in flagrant violation of Article 21 of the ICCPR and Senegal’s Constitution, Article 8 of which guarantees the right to freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement and demonstration. They also contravene the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) which Senegal ratified on August 21 1986.

While we admit there may be some excesses on the part of the demonstrators, it is evident that the security forces responded with disproportionate force, in some cases, to deadly consequence. We therefore call for an impartial probe into the violence leading to justice for all victims.

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