DAKAR (Reuters) - A U.N. panel accused Senegalese authorities of arbitrarily detaining the son of former president Abdoulaye Wade, and called on the government to hand over unspecified compensation, a draft report showed.
Karim Wade, formerly head of four ministries and now presidential candidate for the main opposition party SDP, was jailed for six years in March for illicit enrichment and ordered to pay a 138 billion CFA franc ($233.99 million) fine.
Senegal’s current President Macky Sall said the trial was part of a broader crackdown on corruption, but the opposition and other critics dismissed it as a politically motivated bid to stamp out dissent.
“The working group asks Senegal’s government to take the necessary measures to remedy the prejudice inflicted, by ensuring full compensation,” said the document, dated May 7 from the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
The document, from the group which operates under the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, did not go into details on what form the compensation should take.
It said it should be made under a U.N. human rights covenant that orders compensation for victims of unlawful arrest or detention.
Senegal’s justice minister Sidiki Kaba said that the U.N. did not have any authority over domestic rulings.
“Senegal is a sovereign state and it is Senegal’s judiciary institutions that make rulings. A decision has been given and we are awaiting a final ruling by a higher court,” he told private radio RFM.
Karim Wade’s defense lawyer, Sidy Diagne, who is part of a legal team appealing the arrest in a higher court, welcomed the U.N. recommendation.
“This is the victory of law over power, the victory of law over the arbitrary,” he told Reuters. Wade has consistently denied the allegations of corruption.
A government official said that Senegal had been consulted by the U.N. working group ahead of their report but that it missed the deadline for submissions.
(Story refiles to give Senegal President’s full name)
Reporting by Diadie Ba; Additional reporting by Makini Brice; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Andrew Heavens