Press briefing notesOffice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Senegal - protests and communications clampdown
13 June 2023
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Seif Magango
We are deeply troubled by human rights developments in Senegal in recent weeks, where at least 16 people were killed, 350 were injured and more than 500 arrested during three days of protests, between 1 and 3 June.
The use of firearms by security forces during protests sets a negative precedent for Senegal. We note that the authorities have launched investigations and call on them to ensure that the investigations into this use of force are prompt, independent and thorough, and to bring anyone found to be responsible for unnecessary or disproportionate force to account regardless of their status and political affiliation. We offer our Office’s assistance in this respect.
We are also concerned about continuing restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the wake of the protests. Walfadjiri TV, a private station, which was covering the protests live, was suspended on 1 June without clear legal justification and remains off air to date. A Government statement said the suspension would last for 30 days. The Government has also ordered the suspension of a crowd-funding campaign for the station aimed to sustain it during the time it is unable to operate.
The authorities have, since the 3 June protests, denied permission for at least two other protests, including those planned for this past Friday and Saturday.
Access to mobile Internet services was also restricted between 1 and 6 June, ostensibly to stop the “dissemination of hateful and subversive messages.” Internet restrictions must be grounded in unambiguous, publicly available law; must be necessary to achieve a legitimate aim, as defined in human rights law, and proportional to that legitimate aim and non-discriminatory.
It is the primary responsibility of Senegalese authorities to preserve the country’s long-held respect for democratic traditions and the rule of law by guaranteeing the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, as well as the right to information by ensuring that journalists can exercise their profession freely and safely, particularly in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.
We reaffirm our Office’s readiness to continue working with the Senegalese Government, civil society, and other partners to strengthen protection of human rights in the country.
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