Country report and updates: Senegal

Senegal

05/08/1998

1 Conscription

conscription exists

When Senegal achieved independence from France in 1960, regulations providing for national service (identical to French laws) were introduced, but they were not applied. [1]

Apparently there is still legislation on conscription, but the present conscription law is not known. It may be that the 14 November 1960 Ordinance is officially still in force. This law prescribes that all men aged 20 to 60 are liable for national service, which may be either military service or civilian service (arts. 20-21). [1]

According to the government conscription is not enforced in practice. In 1994 the government stated: "Military service, although obligatory in Senegal, is performed in practice, and taking account of economic realities, on the basis of voluntary enlistment for the duration of the legal service. However, the State may at any time, on its own initiative, call up any citizen fulfilling the conditions defined by the law. This particular provision is used exceptionally as an enforcement measure within the framework of the civic and moral training of young people." [4]

According to the US Department of State the armed forces are professional. [3]

But other sources state that conscription is imposed selectively. [5] [6] [7]

military service

It is not exactly known who is liable for military service.

Military service lasts for 24 months. [5] [6] [7]

postponement and exemption

No information available.

recruitment

The actual recruitment practice of the armed forces is not clear. It seems that the armed forces receive sufficient voluntary applications to achieve the required number of recruits. Probably, these 'volunteers' are serving as conscripts on the terms of the conscription law.

The minimum legal enlistment age is 18. [6]

The above cited 1994 government statement, as well as three other sources, suggest that some individuals may be called up to perform compulsory military service. [4] [5] [6] [7]

2 Conscientious objection

The government stated in 1994 that "the law on military service in Senegal contains no provision regarding conscientious objection". [4]

3 Draft evasion and desertion

No information available.

4 Recruitment by MFDC

In the Casamance region, the armed wing of the Movement of Democratic Forces of the Casamance (MFDC) are fighting a guerrilla war with the government forces. Both are accused of many human rights violations and killings of civilians. The MFDC forces mainly consist of members of the Diola ethnic group. The Diola are also living across the border in neighbouring Guinea-Bissau. The MFDC forces are supplied with arms by means of arms smuggling of Guinea-Bissau armed forces personnel. Guinea-Bissau soldiers are also reported to hire out their rifles to MFDC-fighters. [2] [3] [8]

Further details about the recruitment methods of the MFDC are not known.

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces comprise about 13,350 troops, of whom most are serving as conscripts. They form 0.15 percent of the population. [7]

Every year about 88,000 men reach conscription age. [7]

Sources

[1] Prasad, D., T. Smythe 1968. Conscription: a world survey, compulsory military service and resistance to it. War Resisters' International, London. [2] IRBDC 1992. IRBDC, 10 July 1992. [3] US Department of State 1994. Country reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993. Washington DC. [4] UN Commission on Human Rights 1994. Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1993/84 (and Addendum). United Nations, Geneva. [5] Brett, R. & M. McCallin 1996. Children, the invisible soldiers. Rädda Barnen, Stockholm, Sweden. [6] UN Commission on Human Rights 1997. The question of conscientious objection to military service, report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1995/83. United Nations, Geneva. [7] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London, UK. [8] NRC Handelsblad (Dutch newspaper), 17 July 1998.