Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture
COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 19 OF THE CONVENTION
Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture
102. The Committee considered the second periodic report of Senegal (CAT/C/17/Add.14) at its 247th and 248th meetings, on 1 May 1996 (CAT/C/SR.247 and 248), and has adopted the following conclusions and recommendations:
103. The Committee welcomes the submission by Senegal of its second periodic report and its core document (HRI/CORE/1/Add.51) and thanks the delegation for its oral introduction and for its frank collaboration, as demonstrated by its constructive dialogue with the Committee.
104. The Committee notes with great satisfaction Senegal's firm commitment to the defence of human rights, demonstrated,
, by its ratification of a series of international treaties concerning the protection of human rights, and the modernization of legislation on the subject which is now in progress. In addition, the State party's frank collaboration with the Committee shows its willingness to fulfil the obligations it assumed when ratifying the Convention.
105. The Committee notes as a positive aspect that the status accorded by the Senegalese Constitution to international treaties ratified by Senegal is higher than that of domestic law.
106. The Committee also regards as very positive recent developments in the field of human rights in Senegal as set forth in the joint communiqué by a delegation of the Government and non-governmental organizations of 13 March 1996, announcing the establishment of a periodic dialogue and the establishment of a human rights unit.
107. The Committee also welcomes the fact that the Senegalese delegation, on behalf of the authorities of the State party, has undertaken to ensure that measures are taken to provide for the training of personnel performing the functions listed in article 10 of the Convention, particularly medical personnel, and to complete the procedure regarding the declaration provided for under article 22 of the Convention.
Factors and difficulties impeding the application
of the provisions of the Convention
108. At the normative level, the Committee notes the absence of regulations to ensure the effective implementation of the Convention.
109. The Committee notes that the conflict in Casamance sometimes impedes effective implementation of the Convention.
Subjects of concern
110. The Committee is disturbed by the numerous cases of torture that have been brought to its attention by non-governmental organizations of established credibility, and are also referred to in the State party's report, notably in paragraphs 12, 37 and 103.
111. While taking into account the particular problem of Casamance, which is threatening the integrity and security of the State, the Committee recalls that a democracy must, whatever the circumstances, ensure that only legitimate means are used to protect the security of the State, peace and stability.
112. The Committee is concerned that, in its report, the State party invokes a discrepancy between international and internal law to justify granting impunity for acts of torture on the basis of the amnesty laws.
113. The Committee is doubtful whether the provisions in force in Senegal can effectively ensure full respect for the fundamental rights of persons in police custody.
114. The Committee recommends that the State party should, during its current legislative reform, consider introducing explicitly in national legislation the following provisions:
(a) The definition of torture set forth in article 1 of the Convention and the classification of torture as a general offence, in accordance with article 4 of the Convention, which would,
, permit the State party to exercise universal jurisdiction as provided in articles 5
. of the Convention;
(b) A blanket prohibition of any act of torture, with the stipulation that no exceptional circumstance may be invoked to justify torture, in accordance with article 2, paragraph 2, of the Convention;
(c) An express provision stipulating that an order from a superior officer or from a public authority may not be invoked to justify torture, in accordance with article 2, paragraph 3, of the Convention;
(d) Provisions explicitly prohibiting evidence from being obtained by torture and prohibiting any statement shown to have been extracted in this way from being used as evidence in any proceedings, in accordance with article 15 of the Convention.
115. The Committee recommends that all of the crimes referred to in article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention should automatically be made the subject of a rigorous and prompt investigation by the competent judicial authorities and by the Government Attorney.
116. The Committee recommends that any person accused of an offence under criminal law should be subject to an objective investigation and, in the event that his responsibility is established, handed over to the competent authority as soon as possible.
117. The Committee recommends that article 79 of the Senegalese Constitution, establishing the precedence of international treaty law ratified by Senegal over internal law be implemented unreservedly. The Committee considers the amnesty laws in force in Senegal to be inadequate to ensure proper implementation of certain provisions of the Convention.
118. The Committee hopes that the allegations made by the non-governmental organizations will be investigated and the results transmitted to the Committee.
119. Finally, the Committee would welcome a contribution, however symbolic, from the Senegalese Government to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights