SENEGAL: Children's rights in the Special Procedures' reports

Summary: This report extracts mentions of children's rights issues in the reports of the UN Special Procedures. This does not include reports of child specific Special Procedures, such as the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, which are available as separate reports.

Please note that the language may have been edited in places for the purpose of clarity.




Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina De Albuquerque


Country visit: 14 to 21 November 2011

Report Published: 16 August 2012

Affordability of water: Water tariffs are calculated on the basis of consumption, given that higher prices are charged to households with a social connection using more than 20m3 every two months. Poorer households often comprise numerous members of the same family, and the amount of water consumed daily by each resident needs to be drastically limited in order not to exceed the limit imposed to be entitled to social tariffs; for example, residents in a house hosting a family of 10 members had to consume no more than 33 m2 of water per day, which is clearly below the minimum quantity recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its guidelines. The Special Rapporteur visited various residences in Ngor, Guédiawaye and Rufisque, where the water connection tap was closed with a padlock in order to control consumption. Women and children complained about the lack of water for personal hygiene and housekeeping; in some cases, the key to the lock was held by the male head of the household (para 57).

Affordability of sanitation: In urban areas, the Sanitation Programme for Peri-urban Areas of Dakar, is credited to have reached 25 per cent of the city’s peri-urban population. The initiative targeted areas with a high incidence of poverty in the peri-urban zone of the Dakar, where it was deemed too expensive or impractical to extend conventional sewerage networks. Financed with international aid, the programme involved the provision of sanitation services and included household sanitation, small-bore sewers, community sanitation, school sanitation and sludge treatment facilities. The sanitation options offered included on-site excreta disposal and semi-collective sewerage systems. Households benefiting from the initiative are required to make a financial contribution, but most hardware and software costs are subsidized. (para 72).

Special Rapporteur on Migrants

Jorge A. Bustamante

(‫‪A/HRC/17/33/Add‬‬ .2)
Country visit: 17 to 24 August 2009

Report published: ‪23 February‬‬ 2011


Relevant Domestic Visits:


During his visit, the Special Rapporteur met with the Ministers of: Justice; Interior; Local Communities and Decentralization; Defense; and Senegalese Abroad and senior officials from these Ministries, as well as with senior officials from the Ministries of: Foreign Affairs; Economy and Finance; Public Function, Labour, Employment and Professional Organizations; and Family, Food Security, Women Entrepreneurs, Micro- Finance and Children. He also met officials from the National Agency for Statistics and Demography, and spoke with representatives of the National Assembly. The Special Rapporteur would like to express his sincere thanks to the Ministers and other officials for the frank and constructive discussions that were held. (Paragraph 2)


Child Beggars:


The country also hosts a number of children who have migrated alone or with family members or other adults, mostly from neighbouring countries. Some of these children are forced to beg, either by the religious teachers entrusted with their care or out of necessity. A 2007 study undertaken by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Bank1 found that the phenomenon of children begging in the streets had acquired alarming dimensions in the region of Dakar in particular, where it is estimated that 6,840 talibé (defined in the study as those children who reported having spent the night preceding the survey in a religious school (daara) and who reported receiving religious education) are begging. According to the study, child beggars are overwhelmingly boys, and 90 per cent are talibés. Almost half of these children come from abroad, usually from neighbouring countries such as the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea- Bissau and Mali. Talibés are often children from Guinea-Bissau (30 per cent) whereas many non-talibés come from Mali (30 per cent). Most of these children have left their families and communities because they have been entrusted by their parents to religious teachers to receive a religious education. (Paragraph 9)


A total of 98 per cent of the talibé children report that their religious teachers send them begging, whereas 62 per cent of non-talibé children are compelled to beg as a means to satisfy their needs and those of their families. The income that talibé children obtain from begging is in part utilized to satisfy their needs but most is handed over to their religious teachers. Law enforcement officials informed the Special Rapporteur that detecting these children as they cross the border into Senegal is difficult as such children usually travel with their parents or authorized adults who, as ECOWAS nationals, do not require a visa to circulate within the region. (Paragraph 10)


Concerning measures to combat the exploitation of children, including migrant children, the Government adopted a strategic plan concerning the education and protection of children who are begging or who are not in school (2008–2013) which provides for different phases of interventions, including (a) mapping the religious schools, the children who are begging and the actors involved; (b) establishing a platform for the exchange of information and the elaboration of consistent strategies and policies related to the protection of children; (c) regulating the opening of religious schools and their functioning through an official decree and ensuring the implementation and monitoring of this decree; (d) elaborating a media plan and a communication strategy; and (e) consolidating and documenting the research and experiences gained through the different interventions, including good practices, and ensuring their dissemination. As part of its efforts to modernize the daaras, and to enhance the quality of lives of children, including migrant children, in the care of religious teachers and prevent their abuse, in 2004 the Government began setting up projects to introduce trilingualism (mother tongue, French and Arabic) and vocational training into these schools. (Paragraph 74)


Concerning particularly vulnerable children, including those forced to beg, the Government should ensure the swift implementation of the strategic plan concerning the education and protection of children who are begging or who are not in school. It should also adopt immediately the decree regulating the opening and functioning of religious schools and establish mechanisms to monitor its implementation. The Government should also implement the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/SEN/CO/2) in order to stop the practice of using talibés (children sent to live and study at a religious school) for private economic gain and to bring to justice the perpetrators of that practice. (Paragraph 99)




According to ILO, every year between approximately 200,000 and 300,000 children fall victim to trafficking for sexual or labour exploitation in West Africa. The organization also estimates that 41 per cent of children in West Africa work. (Paragraph 27)


Senegal is a source, transit, and destination country for children and women trafficked for the purpose of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Women and girls are reportedly trafficked for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation, including for sex tourism, within Senegal. Senegalese women and girls are trafficked to neighboring countries, the Middle East, and Europe for domestic servitude and possibly for sexual exploitation. Women and girls from other West African countries, particularly Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone may be trafficked to Senegal for sexual exploitation, including for sex tourism. Children are trafficked to Senegal from neighbouring countries for forced begging, whereas Senegalese children are trafficked mainly to other African countries for forced labour in gold mines. (Paragraph 28)


With regard to human trafficking, since December 2009 the Government has been examining the proposal of the Prime Minister to establish a committee to fight the trafficking and exploitation of women and children that would become the main governmental body in charge of coordinating all actions in this field. (Paragraph 51)


Senegal also signed an agreement with Gabon on the mobility of Senegalese teachers, as well as a technical cooperation agreement with Djibouti concerning the recruitment of 40 Senegalese managers to strengthen the education and training system in the context of South-South cooperation. Senegal has social security agreements with Mali and Mauritania, as well as agreements with Mali and Guinea-Bissau on the return of child victims of trafficking. (Paragraph 57)


The Government of Senegal has been making significant efforts towards the elimination of trafficking, engaging in activities such as rescuing and caring for victims. In December 2007, nine individuals, two of whom were truck drivers from Guinea-Bissau and one of whom was Senegalese, were arrested at the Southern border for attempting to traffic 34 boys. The suspects are in jail awaiting trial. In 2007, a religious leader was prosecuted and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for beating a talibé to death. (Paragraph 85)


Relevant International/Regional Obligations:


In addition Senegal has ratified the main ILO instruments on labour rights, including the Convention concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour, 1930 (No. 29), the Convention concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, 1948 (No. 87), the Convention concerning the Application of the Right to Organize and to Bargain Collectively, 1949 (No. 98), and the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182). Senegal has yet to ratify the Convention concerning Migration for Employment, 1949 (No. 97) and the Convention concerning Migrant Workers in Abusive Conditions and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity and Treatment of Migrant Workers, 1975 (No. 143), but discussions have started towards their ratification. (Paragraph 31)


By virtue of Act No. 17 (2003), Senegal ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols: the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. (Paragraph 32)


At the regional level, Senegal is party to the African human rights instruments, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and its Protocol on the Rights of Women, as well as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Senegal is also a member of the Conférence Interafricaine de la Prévoyance Sociale (Inter-African Conference on Social Security), established in 1993. In the light of the subregional integration processes on free circulation of persons, the Conference aims to, inter alia, create a supranational framework to collectively address issues related to harmonizing social security legislations and systems and strengthening specialized training in this field. Senegal is party to the OUA Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. (Paragraph 34)


Nationality and Permits:


A foreigner must obtain an establishment permit prior to entering the country; exceptionally such a permit may be granted to foreigners holding temporary residence permits. Establishment permits may also be issued to the immigrant’s spouse, ascendants, and minor and unmarried descendants living as dependants under the same roof. Withdrawal of the permit implies automatic cancellation of the employment contract. Public authorities may grant Senegalese nationality to those foreigners who apply for it and who fulfil the requirements set by law, including continuous residence of 10 years (5 years for foreigners married to Senegalese nationals). However, children born in Senegal to parents who are foreign nationals seem to have difficulty gaining access to Senegalese nationality, mainly due to the cumbersome and lengthy administrative procedure. (Paragraph 41)




An agreement on the repatriation of unaccompanied Senegalese minors arriving in Spain irregularly, signed by the Governments of Spain and Senegal on 5 December 2006, came into force on 18 July 2008. The agreement is aimed at (a) strengthening cooperation through a framework to prevent the emigration of, as well as to protect and repatriate, unaccompanied minors, (b) establishing a permanent dialogue and exchanging data and information to tackle these issues efficiently, and (c) promoting the re-insertion of the children. The Special Rapporteur was informed that, at the time of his visit to Senegal, there were around 500 unaccompanied minors in Spain, of which 11 had been verified as Senegalese. (Paragraph 56)




One of the major challenges is to provide urban and rural youth, who represent the majority of those attempting the perilous voyage across the ocean, with employment opportunities and just and favourable conditions of work.18 In 2002 the permanent unemployment rate (measuring the population aged between 15 and 64 who had not worked continuously during the preceding 12 months and who were looking or waiting for jobs) was estimated at 13 per cent, whereas the rate of the active population without a job was estimated at between 40 and 50 per cent. Permanent unemployment affected those below the age of 35 in particular, among whom the rate reaches 30 per cent according to 2007 estimates of the World Bank. According to the organization, every year in Senegal about 16,000 direct or indirect jobs are created through various programmes and initiatives. This, however, manages to engage only 5 per cent of those who are unemployed or who declare themselves as underemployed. (Paragraph 59)


Unaccompanied Children:


As mentioned in paragraph 56 above, Senegal and Spain concluded a readmission agreement for unaccompanied children. This agreement requires the two countries to exchange information about unaccompanied children and to trace the child’s family within a short time frame. The Spanish authorities must inform the Senegalese authorities of the presence of an unaccompanied child within 10 days; the Senegalese authorities then have 20 days to trace the child’s family and to issue documents confirming the child’s identity. The Special Rapporteur concurs with a report published by Human Rights Watch that such deadlines may “raise questions as to what extent authorities on both sides will be able to assess sufficiently the circumstances behind the child’s departure and the situation awaiting the child upon return”.27 These deadlines may also increase the risk that information will be shared with the relevant authorities before an assessment is made as to whether a child or his or her family are subject to persecution and thus have a claim for protection under the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951). (Paragraph 76)


Concerning unaccompanied minors, the Government of Senegal and Spain should make the implementation of the bilateral readmission agreement transparent and allow for independent monitoring. These Governments should also cooperate in the return of unaccompanied children when the decision to return has been taken in conformity with the children’s best interest, including with regard to aspects requiring international protection, and whether adequate care and integration arrangements can be guaranteed upon return. (Paragraph 96)



Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

(A/HRC/13/30/Add.3 )
Country visit: 5 to 15 September 2009

Report published: ‫23 March‬‬ 2010


Relevant International Obligations:


The Republic of Senegal has ratified the main international treaties, which, in accordance with article 98 of the Constitution, prevail over national law. In 1998, Senegal was one of the first States to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (signed 6 July 1970; ratified 13 February 1978); the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (S-6 July 1970; R-13 February 1978); the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (S-6 July 1970; R-13 February 1978); International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (S-12 July 1968; R- 19 April 1972); the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (S-29 July 1980; R-February 1985); the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (S-10 October 1999; R-26 May 2000); the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (S-4 February 2003; R-18 October 2006); the Convention on the Rights of the Child (S-26 January 1990; R-31 July 1990); the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (S-8 September 2000; R-3 March 2004); the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (S-8 September 2000; R-5 November 2003); and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (R-9 June 1999). (Paragraph 18)


Detention of Minors:


The judicial system is organized as a pyramid structure with the courts of first instance at the base, the courts of second instance (courts of appeal, courts of assize, regional courts and departmental courts) in the middle and the Supreme Court at the top. In addition, there are specialized courts: labour courts, juvenile courts and courts of military justice. The High Court of Justice has the authority to try the President of the Republic for high treason and ministers in cases of treasonable conspiracy. (Paragraph 12)


The departmental courts hear all cases dealing with offences classified as minor offences and those committed within the extent of their jurisdiction. They also jointly grant direct injunctions. The regional courts apply special provisions concerning the judgement of criminal offences committed by minors and, under specific legal provisions, of all offences other than those within the sole jurisdiction of the departmental courts. The regional courts are located in the main towns of the administrative regions. Dakar possesses a special regional court. (Paragraph 32)


During its visit, the Working Group found that persons in pretrial detention were separated from convicted prisoners and that male minors were separated from adults. This was not the case for female minors, for whom there are no separate detention facilities. In practice, detention of female minors is exceptional. The children’s judge places children in general and female minors at risk or in conflict with the law in AEMO centres or entrusts them to the care of their parents. (Paragraph 42)


At the time of the Working Group’s visit, Senegal had 38 prison facilities, of which 32 were detention and correctional facilities. There was one prison for women, one prison for minors and three camp facilities for prisoners serving sentences of over one year. On 13 November 2009, Decree No. 2009-1273 came into force, with the aim of closing the Kédougou camp facility created in 1963. This brought the number of prison facilities down to 37. The Prison Service receives only 500 CFA francs (1.14 American dollars) per prisoner. (Paragraph 48)


The current prison population numbers 7,086: 6,692 men, 250 women and 144 minors. Of these, 4,149 have been convicted and 2,937 are in pretrial detention. Ten per cent are foreigners. (Paragraph 49)


Also, the Working Group noted that, in detention facilities the boys are separated from the adults, though this is not the case for the girls. (Paragraph 67)


Examine the advisability of constructing special detention centres for minors, thus avoiding the detention of minors in centres for adults; (Paragraph 82s)


Establish a strict separation between minors and adults among female detainees; (Paragraph 82t)


Juvenile Justice:


Book IV of the Code of Criminal Procedure addresses special procedures and particularly those relating to juvenile justice. According to article 565 of the Code, no measure may be taken concerning a delinquent under 18, or a minor who is under 21 at risk, unless it complies with the required procedures. Special guarantees for children who have been arrested are also specified. The procedure addresses measures regarding protection, assistance, supervision and education, amongst others (art. 567 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). Articles 572–576 of the Code address matters of procedure. (Paragraph 45)


The juvenile court is presided over by a trial judge appointed by the President of the regional court. Each case is judged separately with no other defendants being present. Also, chapter 2 defines special guarantees for children at risk. Article 594 provides that minors under 21, whose health, safety or education are endangered, can be the subject of preventive measures. (Paragraph 46)


The Working Group met some minors who had been convicted without having had the assistance of a lawyer, in contravention not only of international norms but also of Senegalese law. The Working Group urges the Government to replace deprivation of liberty with other penalties specified for minors. (Paragraph 66)


Consider the possibility of establishing a special system of justice for minors in accordance with the principles and norms of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other relevant international instruments; (Paragraph 82r)


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