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Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Senegal, U.N. Doc. A/49/18, paras. 332-361 (1994).






Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination


332. The ninth and tenth periodic reports of Senegal, combined in a single document (CERD/C/209/Add.7), were considered by the Committee at its 1046th and 1047th meetings, on 3 and 4 August 1994 (see CERD/C/SR.1046 and 1047).

333. The reports were introduced by the representative of the State party, who referred to his country's commitment to democracy and respect for human rights. He pointed out that Senegal was a party to over 20 international instruments relating to human rights and humanitarian law and that it regularly submitted to the monitoring bodies the periodic reports required of it under nine of those instruments.

334. On the particular question of discrimination, Senegal was a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, ILO Convention No. 111 and the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education, in addition to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The Senegalese authorities had formulated a veritable policy of national integration and prevention and prohibition of all forms of discrimination. Thus, article 3 (1) of the Constitution stated, inter alia, that no political party or association was allowed to identify itself with a particular race, ethnic group, sect, language or religion. That policy had also taken concrete form in the formulation of a cultural charter and a social order designed to cultivate fraternity, solidarity and understanding, in the founding of the Université des Mutants and a human rights and peace institute, and in the establishment of a national system for the promotion of the national languages. Senegal had made an effort to incorporate within its domestic law the essential content of the international conventions to which it was a party and accordingly guaranteed all the rights protected by those conventions. He emphasized the genuine political will of the Senegalese authorities to eliminate any form of discrimination once and for all and stated that in Senegal tolerance and respect for diversity had always been regarded as essential factors in stability and mutual enrichment.

335. Members of the Committee welcomed Senegal's obvious commitment to human rights and the important role Senegal played at the international level, including the Organization of African Unity and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. They congratulated Senegal on the regularity with which it submitted reports under the Convention and on having made the declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention. They noted that the report submitted was very complete, had been drafted in accordance with the guidelines prepared by the Committee, contained important information and demonstrated that, essentially, Senegal respected its obligations under the Convention.

336. At the same time, however, they said that the report was silent on several important points: it contained almost no information on the effective implementation of national legislation on discrimination; it contained only very general and abstract information on the implementation of articles 5, 6 and 7 of the Convention; it did not contain any information on judicial practice; and, in particular, it made no mention of cases where the provisions of the Convention had been invoked in court, where associations had been banned, or where perpetrators of acts of racial discrimination had been prosecuted and punished.

337. The members of the Committee, after observing that inter-ethnic problems were among the most serious and constant causes of massive violations of human rights, discrimination and, in some cases, political oppression in Africa, expressed a desire to know what Senegal was doing to prevent the deterioration of certain inter-ethnic tensions on its territory in general and what, in particular, it was doing in response to the tension which had manifested itself for some years in the Casamance region. The Committee would welcome details on the situation in that region and on the measures that the Government was considering taking in order to respond to it and to prevent a similar situation from arising elsewhere.

338. Members of the Committee wished to know how the Senegalese Human Rights Committee was organized, how its members were appointed, what its functions were and what role it played in the protection of the rights set forth in the Convention.

339. In connection with article 1 of the Convention, members of the Committee asked why there was no definition of racial discrimination either in the Senegalese Constitution or in the relevant ordinary legislation. They considered that it was essential, in order to be able to condemn racial discrimination, to define it, preferably in the light of article 1 of the Convention.

340. With regard to the implementation of article 4 of the Convention, members noted that Senegal had very comprehensive legislation in that area, consistent with article 4, but observed that the provisions of article 3 (1) of the Constitution forbidding any political party or any association to identify itself with a particular race, ethnic group, sect, language or religion did not actually constitute implementation of article 4 of the Convention. They also stated that the report did not deal with the practical implementation of that legislation, in other words, the specific policies and programmes giving practical effect to the relevant legislation.

341. In connection with article 5 of the Convention, members of the Committee noted that the reports contained no precise information, above all with regard to effective protection, in the context of the Convention, of economic, social and cultural rights, and particularly the right to employment, the right to housing, the right to social services and the right to education.

342. Members asked for further information on the Radio and Television Supervisory Council which managed the use of broadcasting time in electoral campaigns, and particularly whether the Council included representatives of the various ethnic groups and to what extent.

343. As to the right to judicial protection against discrimination (art. 6 of the Convention), members said that it was not enough to proclaim in national law that access to the courts was a basic right; how much were persons potentially exposed to racial discrimination aware of that right and of how to avail themselves of it? They requested that information on that matter, together with the practice followed in implementing the rights enunciated in articles 4, 5 and 7, be included in Senegal's next report.

344. The representative of the State party, replying to the question on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention, said that Senegal had incorporated various international human rights instruments, including the Convention and specifically article 1 containing the definition of racial discrimination, in its national law. Accordingly, the Convention could, under Senegalese law, be applied by a Senegalese court. He stated that the definition of racial discrimination, as contained in the Convention, was set out in Senegalese law as a result of ratification of the Convention. He pointed out that, for 23 years, he had held the post of head of a court of criminal jurisdiction and, during that period, no case of discriminatory practice had been brought before any court. In addition, Senegalese citizens learned through the radio, television and press of the content of anti-discrimination legislation and complainants could refer cases to the courts without incurring any cost.

345. As to population statistics, the representative explained that censuses were conducted not horizontally but vertically; in other words, they were prepared not on the basis of regions but on the basis of ethnic groups, which were often nomadic, and moved with their herds from one region to another. For that reason, the statistics contained in the latest report were slightly different from those in the previous report.

346. With reference to the precarious situation in Casamance, the representative said that the Casamance problem was not of an ethnic nature. He explained that, in Casamance, separatist movements had wanted to secede, something that Senegal, like any other country, clearly could not accept. To settle the problem, the Government had created a reconciliation commission, consisting essentially of inhabitants of Casamance, to work for peace and understanding among all Senegalese. Its activity had been crowned with success, there had been a cease-fire and an agreement had been reached and was being respected. The Commission was none the less pursuing its task, namely, to restore confidence and unity, so that no region would be marginalized.

347. As to the question of article 4 of the Constitution, prohibiting any regionalist propaganda prejudicial to the internal security of the State, the representative of the State party said that, since independence, Senegal had been concerned above all to consolidate the country and to strengthen the foundations of the Senegalese nation. Article 4 stemmed directly from the concept that all Senegalese should consider themselves first and foremost as Senegalese nationals, regardless of whether they belonged to a particular region. Similarly, Senegal had prohibited political parties created for ethnic, linguistic or religious reasons. That policy in no way impeded the establishment of political parties, which now numbered 17 in Senegal.

348. The representative provided the information requested on the organization and functioning of the Senegalese Human Rights Committee, explaining that, in future, the Committee was to play an increasing role, particularly with the Government. He added that the Ombudsman of the Republic had made major contributions in that connection.

349. The representative of the State party also responded to other questions raised and comments made by the members of the Committee during the consideration of the ninth and tenth periodic reports of Senegal.

Concluding observations

350. At its 1065th meeting, on 17 August 1994, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations.


(a) Introduction

351. Appreciation is expressed for the detailed report submitted by the State party and the comprehensive additional information provided by the delegation in response to the questions and comments of the members of the Committee. It is noted that the report has been prepared in accordance with the Committee's guidelines for the preparation of reports and that the State party has been complying with its reporting obligations under article 9 of the Convention.

(b) Positive aspects

352. It is noted with satisfaction that Senegal has been actively supporting international human rights activities at both the international and regional levels and that it is a party to numerous international human rights instruments, including all the major United Nations instruments under which supervisory mechanisms have been established.

353. In that connection, it is appreciated that all human rights instruments ratified or acceded to by Senegal, including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, have been incorporated in Senegalese law by virtue of article 79 of the Constitution and have been given precedence over national legislation.

354. Note is taken of the fact that Senegal has made a declaration under article 14 of the Convention recognizing the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications from individuals or groups of individuals within its jurisdiction claiming to be victims of a violation of any of their rights set forth in the Convention.

355. It is also noted that significant progress has been achieved over the years in the legislative field to give effect to the provisions of article 4 of the Convention prohibiting racist activities and propaganda.

(c) Principal subjects of concern

356. Concern is expressed over the lack of adequate information in the report on the measures taken by the State party to implement provisions contained in articles 5, 6 and 7 of the Convention.

357. Serious concern is expressed over the conflict in the Casamance region, where, despite the signing of agreements between the Government of Senegal and secessionists, violence has reoccurred, taking the form of an ethnic conflict.

(d) Suggestions and recommendations

358. The Committee recommends that the State party, in its next periodic report provide information on the measures taken at the national level to implement provisions contained in articles 5 (especially with respect to economic, social and cultural rights), 6 and 7 of the Convention.

359. The State party should also provide the Committee with fuller information on jurisprudence relating to the rights set forth in the Convention.

360. The Committee recommends that the Government of Senegal intensify efforts aimed at finding a durable and peaceful solution to the problems in the Casamance region, with a view to avoiding any further violence and normalizing the situation.

361. The Committee draws the attention of the State party to the amendment to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, which was approved by the fifteenth meeting of States parties and by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/111, and encourages the State party to expedite its action formally to accept that amendment.




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