government: presidential republic
state of civil and political rights: Free
constitution: 7 January 2001; amended many times
legal system: based on French civil law system
legislative system: bicameral Parliament consisting of the National Assembly and the Senate reinstituted in 2007
judicial system: Constitutional Court; Council of State; Court of Final Appeals; Court of Appeals
religion: Muslim 94%, Christian 5%, indigenous beliefs 1%
year of last executions: 0-0-0
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
On December 10, 2004 Senegal’s National Assembly, with a resounding majority, voted to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.
Senegal’s government had approved a bill to abolish the death penalty on July 15, 2004. An official statement released after the Cabinet meeting said that "after a long introduction on the issue, a particularly broad debate took place and the Council of Ministers unanimously saluted the decision of the president" and "supported it without reservations". Local and regional, as well as international, human rights groups, welcomed the decision and described the move as bringing into line Senegal’s laws with its abolitionist culture.
The Constitution of Senegal does not make a specific mention of the death penalty. On the other hand it protects the right to life: "La personne humaine est sacrée. Elle est inviolable. L'Etat a l'obligation de la respecter et de la protéger."
Senegal has a strong tradition of tolerance and democracy and has enjoyed uninterrupted civilian rule since independence from France in 1960.
In March 2000 Abdoulaye Wade won, on his fifth attempt, Senegal’s first presidential elections to be considered truly free and impartial by international observers. Soon after, in January 2001, the Muslim-majority nation approved a new constitution that for the first time recognised women’s right to own land.
Wade, whose coalition government was in a minority in parliament, then dissolved the National Assembly. The April 2001 elections consolidated his power base by giving his Senegalese Democratic Party control of the national assembly, thus bringing to an end the 40-year rule of Leopold Senghor’s and Abdou Diouf’s Socialist Party.
On June 24, 2005, President Wade was given the "Abolitionist of 2005" award by Hands Off Cain during a ceremony in Rome for his role in the abolition of the death penalty in Senegal.
Religious liberty is respected in the country, that is 94% Muslim, but certain aspects of Sharia law, mainly relating to hereditary and marital affairs continue to discriminate against women. On the other hand, in 1999 a law banning female genital mutilation was passed, and in 2001, the country’s first female prime minister was appointed.
Senegal executed only two people since independence. The first execution took place in 1965, when Moustapha Lo was shot by firing squad for the attempted murder of the first president of Senegal, Leopold Sedar Senghor. The second and last person to be executed was Abdou Ndaffa Faye in 1967 for the murder of an MP for Mbour, Demba Diop. Since then, all those convicted of murder have been sentenced to life imprisonment. Even when a judge was murdered in 1993, his killers escaped execution.
On December 16, 2020, Senegal was absent during the vote on the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly, as in 2018, 2016 and in 2007. In 2014, Senegal abstained, as in 2012, 2010 and 2008.