Meine Merkliste Geteilte Merkliste PDF oder EPUB erstellen

Political and Legal Developments | Senegal (2007) |

Senegal Background Information Historical Trends Political Development Emigrant Population Citizenship / Irregular Migration Refuge and Asylum Current Developments References

Political and Legal Developments

Felix Gerdes

/ 5 Minuten zu lesen

Matters of immigration have been of subordinate importance in Senegalese politics, and political interventions have generally taken place in the context of international agreements.


Historically, and for primarily ideological reasons, immigration has been perceived as a positive affair. In the Senegalese national consciousness, the value of hospitality (teranga) assumes an important role. Moreover, the first president of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor, was one of the great theoreticians of pan-Africanism, which proposed the union of all the indigenous inhabitants of Africa.

The most important immigration-related international agreement for Senegal – the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, the Right of Residence and Establishment – was signed in 1979 by the members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Of all of the clauses contained in the Protocol, only visa-free entry for citizens of the Community has been implemented to date. The Senegalese, however, are not particularly restrictive with regard to the right of residence. When required by an employer, work permits can be granted to foreigners, although priority for jobs is given to the indigenous people (Law No. 71-10 dated 25 January 1971). African migrants mostly work in the informal sector, for which the legal situation is of secondary importance.

In addition to this, Senegal has signed a series of international legal initiatives for the protection of refugees, including the Refugee Convention of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) from 1969. The country has also ratified the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1990).


The most significant domestic policy efforts in this are have been devoted to the use of emigrant potential for development. To this end the Ministry of Senegalese Abroad (Ministère des Sénégalais de l'Extérieur) was established. Political efforts have concentrated on convincing Senegalese abroad to make productive investments in the country. On the basis of a bilateral agreement, France financed for the first time in 1983 a programme of vocational training for, and lending to, migrants abroad who wanted to return. In 1987, France and Senegal established the Bureau of Reception, Orientation and Follow-up of Actions for the Reinsertion of Emigrants (Bureau d'Accueil, d'Orientation et de Suivi des Actions de Réinsertion des Émigrés, BAOS), meanwhile under the auspices of the foreign office. The BAOS attends above all to smaller projects concerning returning emigrants, but is little-used due to administrative deficiencies, insufficient funding, and migrants' lack of confidence in the organisation.

In 2000 the Investment Promotion and Major Works Agency (Agence pour la Promotion des Investissements et des Grands Travaux, APIX) was founded. APIX coordinates all of the administrative procedures necessary for founding a company, including import formalities, and also carries out feasibility studies. Furthermore, it assumes responsibility for managing projects in which loans are used to assist the return of emigrants from France and Germany. In contrast to the BAOS, APIX focuses not only on migrants, but also on investors in general. It also attends to more financially complex projects. Overall, the success of both state agencies appears to have been limited, due to general deficiencies in the Senegalese administration.

Figure 1: Development of migrant remittances (bpb) Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de

Given the increase in migrant remittances and their growing significance for the national economy, the topic of migration has gradually found its way into political discourse. The Senegalese government has an essentially positive attitude to migration. Internationally it supports an increase in legal opportunities for migration to Europe. In negotiations with European states, it has emphasised the necessity of supporting development projects rather than turning to repression to reduce migration. It has, moreover, voiced support for improved protection for migrants in Africa and Europe. Certainly, international pressure following the drastic increase in the number of migrants attempting to reach the Canary Islands since 2006 and national outrage over the high numbers of deaths caused by these perilous crossings have led to the strengthening of border security. The coast is guarded relatively closely by the state. In addition, in 2006/2007 the European border security agency, Frontex, patrolled Senegalese and Mauritanian waters to prevent potential migrants from making the crossing.

Figure 2: Destination countries and regions for Senegalese migrants (bpb) Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de

In response to the large number of migrants attempting to reach the Canary Islands, Senegal has entered into talks with various European countries and the EU. In October 2006, Senegal and France signed an agreement that provided for the faster deportation of irregular migrants and made it easier for professionals, students and artists to enter France through legal channels. Several agreements were also concluded with Spain during 2006. Amongst other things, the deportation of irregular migrants was made easier and an increase in development aid was agreed to. On this basis more than 3 000 Senegalese were deported in 2006. At the end of 2006, both countries signed a forward-looking agreement which provides for the granting of 4 000 short-term work visas to Senegalese migrants over a period of two years (2007/08). As the result of an Afro-European conference in July 2006, the European Commission has been financing a project to the tune of EUR
1 016 945 to help the Senegalese authorities tighten control of irregular migration. There is also a six billion dollar project extending from 2007 to 2011 and financed by industrial countries and the African Development Bank to help fund agricultural and rural development in eight West African countries, among them Senegal. This too is influenced by the desire to curb migration.



  1. Nonetheless in Senegal, too, there are prejudices against immigrants (Fall 2003).

  2. Members of the Community at the time, in addition to Senegal, were Benin, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo. Mauritania left ECOWAS in 2002.

  3. The OAU Convention differs from the Geneva Refugee Convention on two particular points. Firstly, legitimate reasons for flight are more broadly defined; also social circumstances (such as "foreign domination" or the collapse of public order) and not just individual persecution are grounds for recognising a person as a refugee. Secondly, state interests in curbing "subversive activities" are taken into greater consideration. See Oloka-Onyango (1991).

  4. This programme was a failure: none of the ten projects proved profitable in the medium term. The reasons for this lay in the entrepreneurs' inadequate training and lack of guidance.

  5. In this respect the Bertelsmann Transformation Index noted in 2003: "Effective use of available staffing and organizational resources is more the exception than the rule. President Wade's [2000-2007, F.G.] promise of limiting his cabinet to 21 ministers has already crumbled in the face of pressures from the heterogeneous government coalition. Instead, his cabinet ended up having 29 ministers. [The current cabinet of 38 ministers is one of the biggest in Africa, F.G.] Effective management is already inhibited by difficulties in designating areas of authority at the highest level. On the whole, government services are hardly beneficial to further developmental progress. These services do not apply their own resources in either an efficient or transparent manner, a situation documented in a 2002 Supreme Audit Institution report" (Bertelsmann 2003:12f).

  6. A remittance is the portion of a migrant's income that, in the form of either funds or goods, flows back into the country of origin, primarily to support families back home.

  7. Even the "brain drain", the exodus of qualified workers, has, to date, scarcely entered into the political debate.

  8. Occasioned by the xenophobic attacks in the Ivory Coast, the president publicly announced that no African would have to suffer in Europe what a Burkinabé had to suffer in the Ivory Coast. The president's sharp reaction is also attributable to the fact that Senegalese citizens became systematic victims of the attacks. In 2005 he also demanded that Spain should suspend the deportation of 600-700 Senegalese who had landed in the Canaries after accusations of migrant abuse.

Weitere Inhalte