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Amnesty asks Senegal to probe killings, police brutality

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Amnesty International has demanded that the Senegalese government investigate the deaths of three protesters and the brutality meted out on protesters.

Amnesty said police officers killed three people, including a 16-year-old boy, and arrested hundreds in a violent crackdown on protesters in Saint-Louis, Dakar and Ziguinchor between 9 and 10 February during demonstrations against the delay of presidential elections.

“Evidence gathered from relatives of the victims, eyewitnesses and journalists covering the protests show the escalating repression and brutality against protesters. Senegalese authorities continue to display utter disregard for peaceful dissent. Authorities must promptly, thoroughly, independently, impartially, transparently and effectively investigate the lethal use of force against protestors, including the killings of three people over the weekend,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

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“Authorities must ensure that those suspected to be responsible are brought to justice in fair trials and that victims and their families are provided with access to justice and effective remedies.”

“Parliament must also amend the Senegalese legislation on the use of firearms by police officers, which is obsolete and does not reflect the country’s international human rights obligations to respect, protect, promote, and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The authorities must also immediately and unconditionally release anyone detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights,” he added.

Alpha Yoro Tounkara, a 22-year-old male geography student of Gaston Berger University, was killed in Saint-Louis on 9 February when police officers blocked protesting students from entering the city centre from their campus.

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Another victim of the lethal use of force by police was Modou Gueye, a 23-year-old male Guinaw-Rails resident and hawker, who was hit by a bullet while trying to collect his wares in Colobane.

Amnesty International is in possession of Modou Gueye’s death certificate, which cites the cause of death as “thoracoabdominal trauma by firearms with burst liver resulting in refractory hemorrhagic shock”.

On 10 February, a 16-year-old male protester, Landing Camara, was shot in the head by security forces in Grand-Dakar, Ziguinchor. A representative of Landing Camara’s family, told Amnesty International: “We were all at home when police fired tear gas. The smoke filled our homes, which prompted the kids, including Landing, to flee outside. But then police were firing, and they shot Landing in the forehead and another kid from our compound in the leg. We managed to take Landing to hospital, but the wound was grievous, and the medical staff dithered on what to do. He passed away 15 minutes after he was brought to the intensive care unit. He would have been 17 this March.”

In a video reviewed by Amnesty International, police officers can be seen during the protests brutally attacking peaceful protesters and firing teargas at reporters.

“This brutal crackdown shows the lengths to which authorities are prepared to go to stifle human rights and media freedom,” said Seydi Gassama, executive director of Amnesty International Senegal.

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