CHAIRMAN: E.V.O. Dankwa
VICE CHAIRMAN: K. Rezag-Bara
COMMISSIONERS: A. Badawi El Sheikh, Isaac Nguema, N. Barney Pityana,
H. Ben Salem, Florence Butegwa, A. Raganayi Chigovera, Vera M.
Chirwa, Jainaba Johm
|UNSAS v. Senegal, Decision, Comm.
226/99 (ACmHPR, Nov. 06, 2000)
|IHRDA, Compilation of Decisions on
Communications of the African Commission On Human and Peoples’
Rights Extracted from the Commission’s Activity Reports 1994-2001,
at 328 (2002); (2000) AHRLR 290 (ACHPR 2000)
25th session: Commissioner Nguéma
26th session: Commissioner Nguéma
27th session: Commissioner Nguéma
28th session: Commissioner Nguéma
SUMMARY OF FACTS
1. The Complainant is a trade union congress Union Nationale des Syndicats
Autonomes du Sénégal (National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Senegal),
known by its acronym UNSAS. It claims that on 20 July 1998, at 6:20 am, the
Senegalese government caused the arrest of Mr. Mademba Sock, Secretary
General of UNSAS and of the Syndicat Unique des Travailleurs de
l’Electricité (SUTELEC), as well as 25 delegates and members of SUTELEC’s
executive. According to the Complainant, these arrests were effected in
flagrant violation of labour freedoms. The detainees were kept for four days
without the opportunity of communicating with their counsel or their
relations. This, according to UNSAS, constitutes violation of the provisions
of article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
which is incorporated into Senegal’s Constitution.
2. UNSAS and other unions, joined by broad sectors of the labour world,
mobilised themselves to push for the release of the detainees and their
return to their posts, as well as for the opening of negotiations with the
government with a strong concern for preserving social peace. Since then,
the peaceful demonstrations that have been regularly declared have been
subjected to unwarranted prohibitions on the part of the public authorities
and "fierce" repression, which has spared neither the head office of the
union (regardless of the principle of inviolability of trade union premises,
as recognised in ILO conventions), nor private residences.
3. The Complainant also states that the legal action brought against the
detainees has yet to show any sign of respect for the right of access to
defence counsel. In support of this view, the Complainant states that the
court had upheld its demands when it ordered the results of the preliminary
investigation to be set aside and for the case to be withdrawn. According to
the Complainant, the presentation of the case before the criminal court for
a judgement expected to be handed down by 15 October 1998 did not permit the
exhaustion of all local remedies.
4. Without citing any specific provision of the African Charter on Human and
Peoples’ Rights, the Complainant, expresses the view that, in this case, the
Commission should see to it that the socio-economic rights of the detainees
and their families are respected.
5. The communication is dated 13th October 1998 and was received by the
Secretariat at the 24th Ordinary Session.
6. On 11th January 1999, the Secretariat wrote to the Complainant to request
information regarding the progress of the internal procedure. As of the date
of the 25th Ordinary Session of the Commission, no feedback had been
7. On 16th April 1999, the Secretariat received registered mail from the
Complainant dated 14th March 1999, to which was attached a copy of the
Judgement of 8th December 1998 rendered by the Special Regional Court of
Dakar acting as a Court of Summary Jurisdiction. This letter reported on the
progress of local remedies. It was unfortunately only received by the
Secretariat after the filing of the relevant documents to be submitted to
the 25th Session and could not therefore be taken into account.
8. A reading of the judgement and correspondence mentioned above highlights
a) The Special Regional Court decided to discharge the accused with regard
to the charges of damaging and conniving to damage public utility electrical
installations belonging to the Société Nationale d’Electricité (SENELEC) as
well as the charge of hindering the free exercise of industry or labour.
b) The same Court convicted Mr. Sock for “acts or manoeuvres likely to
compromise public security” and sentenced them to a prison term of six (6)
c) Mr. Sock submitted his appeal against the judgement.
d) After having served his sentence including four and half months of
pre-trial detention, Mr. Sock was released on 23rd January 1999.
9. The Complainant asserts that the judgement of the Special Regional Court
is founded on a description of the facts on the basis of the wide provision
of Section 80 of the old Senegalese Penal Code. According to the
Complainant, Mr. Sock is a victim of a “conspiracy” geared towards
destabilising and weakening SUTELEC.
10. At its 26th ordinary session, the Commission deferred the communication
to the 27th ordinary session.
11. At its 27th ordinary session held in Algeria, the Commission deferred
consideration of the case to the 28th session.
12. On 20th July 2000, parties were informed of the Commission's decision
13. Article 56 (5) of the Charter provides:
“Communications…shall be considered if they: … are sent after exhausting
local remedies, if any, unless, it is obvious that this procedure is unduly
14. Although the communication presents a prima facie case of series of
violations of the African Charter a close look at the file indicates that
the Complainant is yet to exhaust all domestic remedies.
FOR THE ABOVE REASON
The Commission declares the communication inadmissible.
Done at the 28th ordinary session held in Cotonou, Bénin from 23rd October
to 6th November 2000.