Senegal does not operate a dedicated immigration detention facility, according to information provided by the country’s Ombudsperson (Senegal’s Human Rights Committee, or SHRC). However, SHRC informed the GDP that a network of NGOs has launched a campaign to protect the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and any other displaced persons during the pandemic. The coalition–which is made up of the Pan-African NGO for Sustainable Development Education, the Senegalese Social Forum, and partners from the Migration and Development Network–seeks to provide refugees and asylum seekers with food and hygiene products, and to encourage decision makers to take into account the rights of migrants and refugees in all response and resilience plans throughout the pandemic.
According to UNHCR, in 2019 there were 37,554 people of concern within the country. Although Senegalese law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, the country’s President must approve each case causing delays of many years. Moreover according to refugee advocates, the government rarely grants refugee status or asylum, but generally allows those with pending applications, and some who have been rejected, to remain in the country. According to the U.S State Department (2019), “Police did not arrest denied asylum seekers for staying illegally in the country. Police did arrest asylum seekers if they committed crimes, but authorities generally contacted UNHCR in such cases to verify their asylum status and ensure they deported no one with a pending claim.”
- Senegal Human Rights Committee, GDP Covid-19 Survey, 23 July 2020, https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe16r5vVHGhg8AmhOBHG-LzW_wTKk_nlPNt3RiVfjZzapnBsQ/viewform
- UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Senegal Multi-Country Office,” https://reporting.unhcr.org/node/16093?y=2020#year
- U.S. State Department, “2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Senegal,” 2020, https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/senegal/
- A member of the Senegalese graffiti collective “RBS CREW” paints an informational mural advising how to stop the spread of coronavirus: Human Rights Watch, “Waiting for the Storm: The Coronavirus in Africa,” 3 April 2020, https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/04/03/waiting-storm-coronavirus-africa