In southern Casamance clashes between the army and an armed group increased during the first half of the year; civilians were abducted and killed. Torture was regularly used by the police and condoned by the judiciary and led to the death of at least one detainee. Despite renewed promises by the government, the trial of former Chadian President Hissène Habré did not begin.
The conflict between the army and the Democratic Forces of Casamance Movement (Mouvement des forces démocratiques de Casamance, MFDC) intensified. In March, the army shelled MFDC positions in villages around Ziguinchor (the main city of Casamance) after continuous sporadic attacks by MFDC members against military and civilian targets. Despite the consequent rise in tension, which further undermined the 2004 peace agreement, both parties continued to declare officially that they were ready to engage in talks. These had not started by the end of 2010.
In July and August, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Dakar, the capital, to protest against recurrent power cuts.Top of page
The army briefly detained several MFDC leaders and reportedly ill-treated some of them.
Several civilians, including young girls, were abducted; some were reportedly sexually abused by members of the MFDC. Soldiers were also arbitrarily killed by alleged members of the MFDC.
The police regularly tortured suspects.
Despite official promises, most of the officials responsible for acts of torture and other crimes under international law continued to enjoy impunity. Torture was condoned by the judiciary, with prosecutors refusing to open inquiries into allegations of torture and judges sentencing people on the basis of information extracted under torture.
Impunity was facilitated by the fact that judicial proceedings against members of the security forces could only take place with the authorization of the Minister of the Interior (police officers) or the Ministry of Defence (gendarmes and military personnel).
Moreover, despite a law passed in 2009 that created a National Inspector of Places of Deprivation of Liberty, a key measure to prevent torture in detention, by the end of 2010 nobody had been appointed to this position.Top of page
Ten years after some victims of Chad’s former President Hissène Habré lodged a complaint against him in Senegal, no criminal proceeding had been opened by the Senegalese judiciary. The authorities continued to claim that the only obstacle was financial and that the international community should find a solution.
In July 2010, following a joint AU-EU mission, a round table was announced to finalize the financial terms of Hissène Habré’s trial. The round table was held in November, and European and African donors agreed to contribute to financing the trial. However, despite a promise to an Amnesty International delegation in Dakar in October that criminal proceedings would start very soon, there was no progress by the end of the year.
Hissène Habré and his lawyers continued to challenge Senegal’s jurisdiction. In May, the Community Court of Justice of ECOWAS declared Hissène Habré’s 2009 complaint against Senegal admissible. The complaint claimed that the prosecution violated the prohibition of retroactive criminal law in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, even though the crimes alleged were all violations of international law when they were committed. In November, the ECOWAS Court ruled that Senegal could only try Hissène Habré if ad hoc or special jurisdictions were put in place.Top of page