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Le climat de terreur en Casamance

(par Amnesty International)

Ceci est un extrait en anglais du rapport d'Amnesty International sur les exactions de l'armée d'occupation sénégalaise. Vous pouvez également commander le rapport complet en Français :

&  La terreur en Casamance : le rapport d’Amnesty International 

Amnesty International - Summary of Report - AFR 49/01/98
17 February 1998
Senegal
Climate of Terror in Casamance


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5 March 1998 SUMMARY

For the past 15 years, civilians have been hostage to the conflict between the Senegalese Government and the Mouvement des forces démocratiques de Casamance (MFDC), Democratic Forces of Casamance Movement, an armed opposition group which is demanding the independence of this region in southern Senegal. Unable to overpower their adversary by military means, the two parties to the conflict have consciously chosen to terrorize civilians, including women and the elderly, to force them to take their side or at least to dissuade them from supporting the other side.

    This armed conflict has involved a great many violations of human rights. Hundreds of civilians have been arrested and tortured by the security forces. Numerous people have been the victims of extrajudicial executions and dozens of others have "disappeared" after their arrest and never been seen again.

    Amnesty International has gathered a large number of written and oral testimonies about the use of torture by the army and the gendarmerie (the para- military police). These statements reveal the formidable panoply of techniques used to humiliate and forcibly extract confessions from all suspects, be they healthy adult males, old people, women or the sick. Several prisoners have, for example, been tortured by electric shock; some have been beaten for hours whilst hanging by a rope from the ceiling; others have had molten plastic poured on their bodies or have been forced to ingest toxic substances, such as petrol. Motivated by the need to obtain confessions, the main purpose of these acts of torture is to serve as an example and create terror in the hearts of the people to dissuade them, once and for all, from supporting the MFDC's independence movement.

    

Human rights violations in Casamance are essentially the work of the army and the gendarmerie, which have for years been acting with total impunity. It is of course true the Senegalese security forces are faced with insurrection in Casamance, but they are not fulfilling their conventional role, which is to protect civilians against an internal or external enemy. Many of the people interviewed by Amnesty International have insisted that the Senegalese security forces are deliberately keeping the civilian population of Casamance in a state of terror and avenging themselves against innocent civilians for the human losses caused by attacks by the MFDC's armed fighters. Military sources have told Amnesty International, under the seal of anonymity, that it is regular practice for "the Senegalese army to torture and execute people in Casamance, and then to bury the victims' bodies close to army camps and checkpoints".

    These massive violations of human rights cannot be explained away as "regrettable errors", since the Senegalese army is unanimously seen as a well-structured and well-disciplined army and has for many years regularly taken part in peace-keeping operations conducted both by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations (UN). Senegal itself proudly claims to have republican security forces that obey the orders of the political authorities. The very serious acts attributed to Senegalese soldiers and gendarmes over past years therefore clearly imply the responsibility of the highest authorities of the State.

    Amnesty International is particularly alarmed about the "disappearance" of people arrested by the security forces, and whose fate is unknown. Their names do not appear on any list of prisoners and the Senegalese authorities deny that they have been arrested. Despite repeated demands by some victims' relatives, Senegalese human rights organizations such as Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme (RADDHO), African Conference for the Defence of Human Rights, and Amnesty International, the Senegalese authorities have systematically refused to acknowledge the existence of this phenomenon and to put an end to the suffering of families who have to live in ignorance of their relatives' fate and are denied the right to mourn.

     Amnesty International has for many years been denouncing the abuses committed with full impunity by the MFDC against unarmed civilians, be they traditional leaders or people who have recently settled in Casamance and originate from other parts of Senegal: all are suspected of collaborating with the Senegalese authorities. Dozens of civilians, including women and children, have been the victims of ill-treatment, acts of torture and deliberate and arbitrary killings. Some of these acts seem to have been committed by the MFDC on the basis of ethnic criteria. Members of the Manjak, Mandingo, Balante and Mancagne ethnic groups have often been the target of attacks by the MFDC, which feels that these non-Diola populations are not involving themselves in the struggle for the independence of Casamance. The MFDC also kills soldiers who fall into its hands.

Casamance had not been able to break the pattern of violence because both parties to the conflict perceive armed force as the only way of resolving their political differences, but also because the people responsible for atrocities are never brought to justice.

    Although dozens of cases of human rights abuses have been reported over many years, the two parties continue to deny the truth of this information and have thus constructed a wall of impunity behind which those responsible for further abuses can hide. For as long as such abuses remain unpunished and nothing is done to prevent further abuses taking place, there can be no serious hope of any improvement in the situation as regards the respect of human rights .

This report summarizes a -page document ( words), : SENEGAL: CLIMATE OF TERROR IN CASAMANCE (AI Index: AFR 49/01/98) issued by Amnesty International in 5 March 1998. The original document, in French, is called Sénégal: La terreur en Casamance (AI Index AFR 49/01/98/F). Anyone wishing further details or to take action on this issue should consult the full document.

INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT, 1 EASTON STREET, LONDON WC1X 8DJ, UNITED KINGDOM


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