CHAIRMAN: Mr. Youssoupha Ndiaye
VICE CHAIRMAN: Dr. Vera V. Duarte Martins
COMMISSIONERS: Dr. Mohamed Hatem. Ben Salem, Prof. Emmanuel V.O.
Dankwa, Dr. Nyameko Barney Pityana, Dr. Ibrahim Badawi El Sheikh,
Mrs. Julienne Ondziel-Gnelenga, Mr. Kamel Rezzag-Bara, Prof. Isaac
||Mouvement des Réfugiés Mauritaniens
au Sénégal v. Sén., Comm. 162/97, 11th ACHPR AAR Annex II
||IHRDA, Compilation of Decisions on
Communications of the African Commission On Human and Peoplesí
Rights Extracted from the Commissionís Activity Reports 1994-2001,
at 325 (2002); Documents of the African Commission on Human and
Peoplesí Rights, at 613 (Malcolm D. Evans & Rachel Murray eds.,
2001); (2000) AHRLR 287 (ACHPR 1997)
1. The complainant alleges that during the operations carried out from 16-29
October 1996 in the region of Podor, Mauritanian refugees established there
were the main targets of the Senegalese security forces. Refugees were
reportedly arrested and subjected to all sorts of humiliating treatment
during identity checks. The green card the Senegalese State had issued to
them were allegedly not regarded as valid by the security forces who
considered them expired.
2. The complainant further alleges that a group of individuals described as
Mauritanian refugees were arrested by the Senegalese gendarmerie in Mboumba
and on the Island of Morphil in October 1996.
3. The communication finally alleges that these Mauritanian refugees are
still being held at the Central Prison in Saint Louis, whilst Senegalese
nationals arrested together with them have been set free.
4. In a note verbale dated 24 July 1997, addressed to the Secretariat of the
Commission, the Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate
Senegalese maintains that since the month of December 1995, when the United
Nations High Commission for Refugees stopped distributing food, the majority
of Mauritanian refugees voluntarily returned to Mauritania and those who
remained are moving about freely, that they are shuttling between Rosso/Senegal
and Rosso/Mauritania trying to reach an agreement with the Waly of Trarza in
order to arrange for their final repatriation. The Ministry of Foreign
Affairs insists that, in spite of the fact the refugees do not carry green
cards they are nevertheless free to go about their business on both sides of
the common border.
5. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also claims that the following four
Mauritanian refugees: Samba Mbare, Alassane Bodia, Oumar Bodia and Balla
Samba arrested by the Senegalese gendarmerie for allegedly taking part in
the murder of an officer of the Mauritanian gendarmerie, were set free for
lack of evidence. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs therefore argues that the
communication should be declared inadmissible on the grounds that the
allegations it contains are unfounded.
6. In reaction to the arguments of the defendant State, the complainant
reiterated the facts alleged and rejected the Senegalese governmentís claim
that the refugees voluntarily returned to their home country. According to
the complainant, the refugees decided to return not individually but as a
group and only after obtaining assurances about their security and
reintegration into Mauritanian society.
7. The complainant claims that those refugees who left for Mauritania
returned to Senegal because of threats they faced from Mauritanian
authorities, he lack of assistance and the undisguised indifference of
Mauritarians concerning their situation. The complainant reiterates that the
refugees continue to be handicapped by the fact that they do not possess
green cards. The lack of this document prevents them for example from
applying for employment within the Senegalese civil service.
8. The communication, however, does not indicate the provisions of the
African Charter of Human and Peoplesí the defendant State may have violated.
9. The communication was received by the Secretariat on 9 January 1997.
10. On 16 January 1997, the Secretariat informed the defendant State by note
verbale about the substance of the communication. On the same day, it wrote
to the complainant requesting it to state whether the information contained
in its letter of 4 November 1996 was to be considered as a communication
under the terms of article 55 of the Charter.
11. On 21 January 1997, the complainant replied in the affirmative to the
question asked by the Secretariat.
12. On 27 February 1997, the Secretariat informed the complainant that its
complaint had been recorded 12.under number 162/97 and that it would be
submitted to the Commission for a decision on its admissibility at the 21st
ordinary session scheduled for April 1997.
13. On the same day, a note verbale was addressed to the defendant,
informing it that the communication had been recorded and requesting it to
submit its views about its admissibility.
14. On 19 March 1997, the Secretariat received a note verbale emanating from
the Senegalese High Commission in the Gambia, acknowledging receipt of its
note of 16 January 1997 and informing it that the dossier had been referred
to the competent Senegalese authorities.
15. At the 21st session, the Communication was submitted to the Commission
which decided to postpone consideration of its admissibility until the 22nd
session to be held in November 1997.
16. On 13 June 1997, the Secretariat addressed a note verbale to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Senegal , informing it of the Commissionís
decision and requesting it to send its governmentís observations and
arguments concerning this matter.
17. On 24 July 1997, the Secretariat received a note verbale from the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Senegal containing the observations and
arguments of its government on this matter
18. On 25 July 1997, The Secretariat wrote to the complainant sending it a
copy of the defendantís reply and requesting its own response. This response
was received by the Secretariat on 6 October 1997.
19. At the 22nd session held from 2-11 November 1997, the Commission reached
a decision on the question of admissibility.
20. The Commission recalls that under the terms of the provisions of article
56 par. 5, communications shall be considered by the Commission if they ďare
sent after exhausting local remedies, if any, unless it is obvious that this
procedure is unduly prolongedĒ.
21. In this case, it should be noted that the complainant avoids saying that
it has not used the remedies supposed to be available to it under the legal
system of the defendant State. Further, it simply presents facts which,
prima facie, do not show that the Senegalese State may be responsible.
22. Further, the complainant does not mention the provisions of the Charter
which the Senegalese State may have violated.
ON THESE GROUNDS, THE COMMISSION declares the communication inadmissible.
Decision taken at the 22nd session, Banjul (The Gambia), 11 November 1997.