Civil society actors condemn activist's deportation

In early January 2018, Plateforme des acteurs de la société civile pour la transparence des élections (Platform of Civil Society Actors for Transparent Elections) and Collectif des organisations de la société civile pour les élections du Sénégal (Coalition for Civil Society Organizations for Elections in Senegal) called on President Macky Sall to create the conditions for a constructive and credible dialogue with all stakeholders. Given the lack of trust between the ruling coalition and the opposition parties after irregularities were documented during the July 2017 legislative elections, the dialogue would serve as an inclusive platform to agree on the electoral rules and institutions for the February 2019 presidential elections. 

Peaceful Assembly

On 29th August 2017, a court in Dakar acquitted Kémi Séba, a Franco-Beninese activist and leader of the NGO Urgences Panafricanistes of charges of destroying the Central Bank of West African States' property. Seba, whose real name is Stellio Capo Chichwas, was arrested on 19th August during a protest against the misdeeds of 'Françafrique', including the demand to withdraw the currency CFA franc used in 14 countries in West and Central Africa, in the Senegalese capital Dakar. In an attempt to denounce the relations between France and its former colonies in Africa, the activist burned a CFA franc note and was immediately arrested. He was later deported from Senegal on 5th November. Coalition Sénégalaise des Défenseurs des Droits (Senegalese Coalition of Human Rights Defenders) has condemned the government's decision to deport the activist who has resided in Senegal for many years. The Coalition asserted that:

"Freedom of expression is a pillar of democracy and the rule of law and it applies to everyone including foreigners living in Senegal".

On 18th January 2018, university students took to the streets of Dakar to demand the payment of scholarships and more support in drafting their dissertations. Police forces were deployed once the demonstrations started disrupting traffic in the city and the protest quickly turned violent as security forces responded with tear gas to students throwing stones. One month later, on 20th February violent clashes erupted between striking students of the National School of Sanitary and Social Development and security forces. 

On 9th February, more than a thousand opposition members held a protest in Dakar to demand free and fair presidential elections in February 2019. The protesters denounced the alleged government’s selective distribution of voter identification cards in the legislative elections of July 2017, and the continued detention of the main opposition leader and former mayor of Dakar, Mr. Khalifa Sall, who was arrested on 7th March 2017 on charges of criminal conspiracy, forgery and falsification of records, as well as misappropriation of public funds, fraud and money laundering. The protesters also highlighted the need for clarity on the subject of electoral financing and the conditions for participation in the elections. 

On 29th January, violent protests broke out following the shooting of a fisherman by the coast guard of Mauritania in Saint-Louis, in northern Senegal, with some protesters looting shops owned by Mauritanian nationals. Incidents have been on the rise since the agreement related to fishing rights between Senegal and Mauritania ended in 2016 and has not been renewed. 

Expression

On 3rd January 2018, police officers assaulted Selle Mbaye, cameraman for the news website Dakaractu.com, while he was filming the court case of opposition leader and former mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall. Mbaye was briefly detained before being released. 

In its recent study, "Digital Rights in Sub Sahara Africa. Analysis of the practices of Orange in Senegal and Safaricom in Kenya", the association Internet Without Borders denounced the lack of transparency in the confidentiality agreements of Senegal’s biggest telecommunications agency, Orange SN. Its research findings reveal that the company tramples on international legal standards and standards of privacy and freedom of expression because it does not publish its terms and conditions of use on prepaid mobile services, which endangers the protection of freedom of expression in the country.