Senegal: Freed Prisoners Were “Arbitrarily Arrested,” According to Detainee Collective

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Senegal’s Justice Minister confirms the release of 344 individuals since Thursday, February 15th, 2024. These measures are aimed at “calming” the public space as the country still awaits a date for the presidential election initially scheduled for February 25th. The detainee collective asserts, contrary to the minister, that these individuals were political prisoners.

While 272 releases are yet to follow in Dakar, Aissata Tall Sall asserts that these are by no means political releases of prisoners of conscience. Overall, Justice Minister Aïssata Tall Sall speaks of a little over 600 individuals who are set to be released in the coming days, all prosecuted for common law crimes, according to her.

Representatives of the detainees, however, estimate that there are rather 1,600 individuals incarcerated following opposition protests in Senegal since 2021. And for Lamine Bara Diop, also known as Diop Taïf, coordinator of the detainee collective, there is no doubt that these arrests were made for political reasons to quell the opposition: “They were arrested arbitrarily, everyone knows it. For example, there are ordinary Senegalese citizens among them.”

We Have Sabotaged Their Future

Diop Taïf calls for the release of all political detainees as well as compensation for them: “These people need to be compensated because we have sabotaged their future, we have arrested them, and they were working. Various social strata were affected: masons were going to work, there were carpenters, there were cobblers, and they were all arrested and imprisoned. How did they manage to cope, to support their families? All these people are demanding justice after their release.”

The detainee collective thus intends to pursue the State and demand compensation for all those who have spent months in pretrial detention without being judged or who have ultimately been acquitted.

Soukaina Sghir

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