Head of state
Abdoulaye Wade
Head of government
Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye
Death penalty
abolitionist for all crimes
12.8 million
Life expectancy
59.3 years
Under-5 mortality
92.8 per 1,000
Adult literacy
49.7 per cent

The authorities used excessive force to suppress a number of demonstrations and people were arrested for expressing dissident political opinions. Torture of suspects was routine; one detainee reportedly died as a result. In southern Casamance, clashes between the army and an armed group intensified at the end of the year, leading to civilian casualties. Despite Senegal’s legal obligations and repeated calls from the African Union, the Senegalese authorities expressed unwillingness to try former Chadian President Hissène Habré.


Conflict between the army and the Democratic Forces of Casamance Movement (Mouvement des forces démocratiques de Casamance, MFDC) intensified at the end of the year, leading to several civilian and military casualties.

Throughout the year, President Abdoulaye Wade’s candidacy for a third term in the 2012 elections provoked large demonstrations, particularly in the capital Dakar.

In June, violent clashes took place in Dakar between riot police and those protesting against a bill proposing changes to the regulation of the presidential election. The bill was withdrawn as a result.

In June, the implementing decree of a law creating a National Inspector of Places of Deprivation of Liberty was adopted but by the end of the year no appointment had been made.

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Human rights violations and abuses in Casamance

Several civilians were killed or wounded in clashes between the MFDC and the army.

  • In November, 10 civilians collecting wood in Diagnon, 30km from Ziguinchor, the main city of Casamance, were shot dead by alleged members of the MFDC.
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Repression of dissent

Demonstrations against the political and economic situation were met with government force throughout the year.

  • In May, Malick Bâ was killed by gendarmes (paramilitary police) who used live ammunition against marchers protesting against the setting up of new local authorities in the community of Sangalkam.
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Freedom of expression

Several people were arrested and one was sentenced to prison for publicly expressing opposition to the government.

  • In June, Alioune Tine, Secretary General of the African Assembly for the Defence of Human Rights (Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, RADDHO) and Oumar Diallo were attacked by people allegedly close to the ruling party when attempting to protest against the contested constitutional reform.
  • In October, Malick Noël Seck, leader of a movement affiliated to the Socialist Party, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for urging members of the Constitutional Council to reject President Wade’s candidacy for a third term.
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Torture and other ill-treatment

The police regularly tortured suspects; one reportedly died as a result.

  • In April, the naked and handcuffed body of Aladji Konaté, bearing signs of torture, was found by a river in Bakel town. Security forces said he had jumped into the river to escape arrest for alleged drug trafficking.
  • In September, three young men were ill-treated and wounded by gendarmes in the area of Thiaroye in Dakar after being arrested following a complaint from a neighbour. An investigation was opened and two gendarmes were confined to their quarters. By the end of the year, the alleged perpetrators had not yet been tried and the victims had received no compensation.
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International justice – Hissène Habré

The African Union stated in March that former Chadian President Hissène Habré should be tried by a Special Court in Senegal. In June, a coalition of NGOs and victims of Hissène Habré’s government brought a case against Senegal before the International Court of Justice for failing to try or extradite him. The government announced its decision in July to return Hissène Habré to Chad, where he has been sentenced to death in his absence, but this was suspended after protests by UN bodies and human rights organizations.

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