UN rights chief expresses concern over Senegal protests

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] expressed concern [press release] Thursday about excessive force used by Senegalese authorities in response to protests that ensued after the announcement of presidential candidates. Reports of shooting at protestors have caused the death of at least one police officer and four other people this week. The reports were "disturbing" to Pillay given Senegal's tradition of respect for freedom of association, assembly and expression. She said, "[w]ith the presidential campaign beginning this weekend, I cannot stress enough the importance of full respect for the fundamental human rights. These rights are particularly crucial during an election period." Pillay stressed following standards of maintaining public order laid out in international law. She called for an investigation into the killings and the alleged use of disproportionate force by both police officers and protestors. Pillay also called on the presidential candidates to discourage the violence.

Senegal's highest court ruled [JURIST report] Monday that President Abdoulaye Wade [official profile, in French] can run for a third term, rejecting an appeal by the opposition. The Senegalese Constitution [text, in French] had no term limits when Wade initially took office in 2000, but it was amended in 2001 to impose a two-term limit. After the court's preliminary ruling on Friday, a group of youth protesters were confronted by the police. With legal means of stopping Wade's candidacy now exhausted the country may face instability in the coming weeks. The governments of the US and France have both warned of instability that could result from election-related violence.

 

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