Senegal Faces Scrutiny at CERD Meeting: Committee Raises Concerns on Racial Discrimination, Outdated Statistics, and Inadequate Measures

Committee on the Elimination of Racial discrimination 110th Session

7th to the 31st of August 2023

Review of Senegal

17th to 18th of August 2023

By Lené Sophia Strydom / GICJ

Executive summary

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination convened on the 17th and 18th of August 2023 to review the combined 19th to 23rd periodic reports submitted by Senegal under Article 9 of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The meeting was attended by the Senegalese delegates including Minister of Justice Ismaïla Madior Fall, Ambassador of Senegal Coly Seck at the permanent mission in Geneva, and Rapporteur Stamatia Stavrinaki.

The Delegate of Senegal, Ismaïla Madior Fall, affirmed that racial discrimination is a top priority in Senegal, with many laws and programmes implemented to combat all forms of discrimination towards minorities including women, children, and albinos. The delegate of Senegal raised numerous examples emphasising their continuous efforts to eliminate racial discrimination, such as modernising political parties, implementing citizenship rights, improving rights for women and children, and addressing refugee status. However, they also disclaimed certain aspects that are of the highest importance for Senegal, such as the protection and safety of women and children, and ensuring that local communities have rights that include access to drinking water, transport, and civil society.

During the Interactive Dialogue, six key themes emerged: [1] statistics, [2] The Convention in domestic law and the institutional and policy framework for its implementation, [3] implementation of the Convention, [4] the situation of non-citizens, [5] access to justice, and [6] human rights training and awareness-raising. 

After an intense Interactive Dialogue, the delegate of Senegal continued to assure the council that they would take into account the raised issues. However, the Rapporteur, Stamatia Stavrinaki, continued to emphasise her concerns about the lack of specificity in Senegal’s responses to the questions presented by the committee.

In her closing remarks, the Rapporteur underscored that there were unanswered questions from the Committee, specifically regarding the adoption of measures on refugees and the labour code. The Senegalese delegation had 48 hours to submit additional replies in written form. 

The Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) commends Senegal for its policies and laws aimed at eliminating racial discrimination, as well as its ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens. However, GICJ remains concerned with the continuing reports of racism within Senegal's indigenous population and the safety of minorities, including women, children, and albinos. Lastly, GICJ fully supports the committee's recommendations and looks forward to Senegal's continued engagement in addressing the unanswered questions. 


The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) conducted a session on the racial discrimination continuously occurring in Senegal. CERD held a similar session in 2012, with no positive and concrete outcome. The Committee expressed disappointment that Senegal, as early as 2012, relied on the absence of formal complaints and court decisions as proof of the absence of racial discrimination within the country. Regrettably, this argument still prevails today, indicating a lack of significant progress in tackling this pervasive issue.

Furthermore, the meeting delved into the problem of discrimination based on ancestry and caste. It was noted that in 2012, the Committee had already reiterated concerns expressed in 2002 about the persistence of a phenomenon of caste in Senegal. This phenomenon leads to the stigmatisation and ostracism of certain groups and, more alarmingly, violates their fundamental rights. The Expert Member expressed deep regret that Senegal has not taken sufficient action to combat caste stereotypes and dismantle these harmful, discriminatory practices.

Considering the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing political tensions, addressing racial discrimination has become all the more crucial. Discrimination on the basis of race, ancestry, or caste not only perpetuates social inequalities but also exacerbates divisions within the society, hindering efforts to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and political instability. It is imperative for Senegal to intensify its efforts to combat racial discrimination and promote a more inclusive and equitable society for all its citizens.

Outdated Statistics and Inadequate Measures