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New Senegal government should promote human rights: AI

The new Senegalese government should take this opportunity to protect and promote human rights by addressing the impunity that undermines the judicial system and rule of law in the country, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said on Wednesday. In its report [text, PDF], AI listed areas which the new government has to address to achieve the goals of establishing a strong community that respects human rights and justice. AI found that the authorities have to end torture and other ill-treatment as well as stop and sanction the excessive use of force by the country's security forces against protesters and civilians. In addition, freedom of expression should be respected. AI reported that over the last three years, journalists and political opponents have been subject to legal proceedings for their mere political views and opinions. Other areas AI urged the Senegalese government to address were ensuring justice and compensation for the victims of the Casamance conflict [Africa Portal backgrounder], bringing former president of Chad Hissene Habre [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to justice and ending discrimination based on presumed sexual orientation. AI also welcomed two statements made by the new government. The country's Minister of Justice announced in April that investigations into the deaths of Malick Ba and Mamadou Diop will be initiated. He also made a statement in May the ministry will pursue cases concerning the victims of the elections.

The international community has called on Senegal to cease the human rights violations in the country while prosecuting those responsible for such. In March, lawyers for the Belgian government asked [JURIST report] the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] to force Senegal to bring Habre to justice for atrocities he committed during his eight years in power. Senegal had reversed its decision in July 2011 to send the former president back to Chad three days after it announced [JURIST reports] the planned deportation and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] warned he could be tortured. In February, Pillay expressed her concern [JURIST report] over the excessive force used by Senegalese authorities against protesters after the announcement of presidential candidates.

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