Practice Relating to Rule 98. Enforced Disappearance
Senegal’s Penal Code (1965), as amended in 2007, lists “the abduction of persons followed by their disappearance” as a crime against humanity “when committed on the occasion of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population”.
In 1995, in its second periodic report to the Committee against Torture, Senegal stated:
85. As far as the facts at issue are concerned, it will be remembered that the 1980s were a time of serious instability in the Casamance region in the south of Senegal and that this resulted in the intervention of the armed forces to restore and maintain order. This conflict between the central Government and the separatist movement in the region (MFDC [Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance]) took the form of armed confrontations leading to deaths and injuries on both sides.
86. One of these clashes, at Kaguitt on 1 September 1992[,] was particularly deadly, as it occurred the day after the agreement was signed between the Senegalese Government and the separatist movement. The latter broke its promises by suddenly taking up arms again. The security forces arrested many persons who were brought before the courts.
87. The 1993 agreement led to the release of all persons detained in connection with this event, even before trial. However, some Senegalese and international non-governmental organizations took up the Kaguitt file by lodging a complaint with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul and with the monitoring bodies of the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. These complaints contained a list of the names of persons who had allegedly disappeared or been executed extrajudicially during the September 1992 events.
88. The Senegalese Government was questioned by both bodies and asked to conduct investigations in accordance with the provisions of article 12 of [the 1984] Convention [against Torture] and to try and punish the guilty parties.
89. The Senegalese authorities pointed out that the amnesty laws had erased the memory of this tragic episode in Senegal and that, in their opinion, further reference to these events would jeopardize the peace which had already been established and even the stability of the country.
96. With regard to the presumed disappearances and extrajudicial executions in connection with the events in Casamance in general, the human rights monitoring bodies are demanding that impartial investigations should be conducted in accordance with article 12 of the Convention to identify the persons responsible, who would then be tried and punished. The Senegalese authorities have pointed out, in this connection, that the amnesty laws no longer permit such investigations, which would be likely to jeopardize the newly restored peace, national cohesion and the stability of public institutions.
97. The Senegalese authorities have received the reply that article 79 of their own Constitution gives the Convention precedence over the internal law of the State party to the international instrument. As the Convention is a multilateral international instrument reciprocally applied by several States parties, this situation is becoming a permanent problem.