A vote this Friday in Senegal’s National Assembly, amending the Senegalese criminal Code, is marred with a heated controversy. Through a parliamentary committee report, the state of Senegal argues that the reform is to revamp the government’s efforts to fight terrorism. But for the Senegalese opposition, there are many untold prejudices in the government change of the law.
The government argues that the Senegalese criminal Code needs a change with new provisions that consider the need to prevent and fight terrorism and its financing.
The Senegalese opposition stresses that the provisions in the amended law will constitute an attack on democracy.
The debated bill punishes, for example, with a fine ranging from one to five million any leader found criminally responsible who knowingly refuses to carry out a court order. An accomplice is punished with the same penalty as the perpetrator of this crime or misdemeanor except where the law provides otherwise.
The new law punishes with imprisonment of 5 to 10 years and a fine of CFA 500,000 to 2,000,000 anyone who knowingly conceals a person whom they know to have committed a terrorist act, whom they know to be sought by justice, or who have withheld or attempted to remove a person prosecuted for the same act from arrest or search, or who have helped him to hide or to flee.
Heated arguments at the Senegalese national assembly
In the national assembly, the opposition parliamentarians call the Senegalese people to take up to the streets. Dethie Fall, a friend to Idrissa Seck, said: “Why does Macky Sall want to get this reform done under an emergency procedure? President Macky Sall, when he does something, you always have to look for what’s behind it. He showed it to us in 2019 with the sponsorship bill when he wanted to eliminate political opponents. So we want him to withdraw this bill. We are also expecting a strong mobilization from the populations,” said Déthié Fall.
A close collaborator to Macky Sall and deputy-speaker of the Senegalese National Assembly, Abdou Mbow, says he believes that the foes of the legislative reform are bent on a campaign of disinformation.
“Since 78 hours, the bill has passed at the committee level. If there were a problem, you would hear opposition MPs denounce it. No word, I mean no word, has changed about this law on the definition of terrorism in the Senegalese criminal Code. Today our friends in the opposition are in the manipulation, in a campaign of slander, and the denial of the truth,” Abdou Mbow argues.