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Senegal: Restraint needed as three-day protest announced in wake of deaths

Protests triggered by arrest of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko

Individuals in plain clothes armed with clubs and guns seen beating up protesters

‘Members of the security forces who use excessive force or unlawful lethal force must be prosecuted’ - Samira Daoud

Following an announcement by Senegal’s Movement to Defend Democracy, a group of opposition parties and activists, that a three-day country-wide protest would start today, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International West and Central Africa Director, said: 

“Protests in Senegal have already led to the death of at least eight individuals last week, some of them caused by the use of excessive force and firearms by security forces.

“We reiterate our call on the authorities to launch impartial investigations into the circumstances of these deaths, and we urge them to ensure people can safely exercise their right to peaceful assembly.

“The use of force by security forces must be exercised with restraint, only when necessary and in a proportional manner. Firearms must only be used as a last resort when strictly necessary to protect against the imminent threat of death or serious injury. Members of the security forces who use excessive force or unlawful lethal force must be prosecuted.

“Security forces policing demonstrations must wear distinctive uniforms that clearly identify them as such. Individuals in plain clothes armed with sticks, clubs and guns at several sites were observed beating up protesters during last week’s protests in full view of security forces and even using firearms in some parts of the capital.

“The authorities must investigate the presence and the role of these individuals.”

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