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PRESS RELEASE: Civic Space Resource Hub Condemns Attacks on Protesters in Senegal

Monday, 20 March 2023

THE CIVIC SPACE IN SENEGAL IS UNDER THREAT!

Civic Space Resource Hub Condemns Attacks on Protesters in Senegal

The West Africa Civic Space Resource Hub (CSR-Hub) has noted with great concern, the flagrant violation of human rights and repeated crackdowns on dissidents, demonstrators, and protesters by law enforcement officers in Senegal in the last two years. These shocking incidents have become more rampant and are fast evolving into a repressive culture as the country inches closer to its presidential elections scheduled to hold in February 2024.

On March 3, 2021, demonstrations broke out across Senegal following the arrest of Ousmman Sonko, the opposition leader and head of the political party, Patriots of Senegal for Works, Ethics, and Fraternity (PASTEF). According to a report by Human Rights Watch, activists, protesters, journalists, and media outlets (local and international) were tear-gassed by security personnel, and many protesters were arrested.

On June 17, 2022, in the wake of a hitherto banned demonstration protesting the news of President Macky Sall’s alleged third term agenda, media reports stated that three people died as a result of clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers and more than 200 people were arrested, including two members of parliament in Dakar. To justify the ban on protests, authorities cited “real threats to public order”, “real risks of infiltration by ill-intentioned individuals”, “serious threats of attacks on public buildings” and “real risks of hindering the free movement of people and goods”. Most recently, on Thursday, 16 March 2023, law enforcement officers again, used tear gas and brute force on protesters who showed up in support of Ousmane Sonko, as he appeared in court for the resumption of a civil libel case against him by Senegal’s tourism minister for alleged defamation and public insults.

The CSR-Hub unequivocally condemns these egregious attacks and calls on the government of Senegal to respect citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedoms of expression and assembly, and to create spaces for inclusive dialogue and transparency as a pathway to restoring Senegal to its previous position as the bastion of stable democracy in West Africa. The decline in democratic freedoms pose serious threats to open civic space and citizens’ right to accountable leadership and democratic consolidation.

Accordingly, we call on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), United Nations (UN), and the international community to prevail on the government of Senegal to desist from gagging citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, assembly and to protest.

CSR-Hub stands in solidarity with the people of Senegal and all who are advocating for human rights and freedoms, respect for the rule of law and open society.

Signed:

CSR-Hub

 

 

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Download this press release in pdf here.

About CSR-Hub

CSR-Hub is a capacity building platform for civil society organisations pushing back restrictions to open civic space, enabling environment, civil liberties, and open society in West Africa. It is designed to reinforce the institutional, financial, and digital resilience of the civil society in bid to respond effectively to emerging and longstanding challenges to civic space, human rights and freedoms in West Africa.

The Civic Space Resource Hub (CSR-Hub) is co-managed by West Africa Civil Society Institute and Spaces for Change (S4C), Nigeria.

For more information or media inquiries, please write to – info@csrhubwestafrica.org

 

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