Senegal chaining: Head teacher receives suspended sentence


Police officers stand in front of the court where the verdict was handed down

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AFP

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Police officers stand in front of the court where the verdict was handed down

A court in Senegal has handed down a two-year suspended prison sentence to the head of a Koranic school for chaining up children.

Four parents and the metalworker who made the chains also received suspended sentences.

They were all arrested last month after a photo shared on social media showed several students with chains around their feet.

But the case has split opinion in the Muslim-majority nation.

Many thousands of children attend Koranic schools, and some parents have said they didn’t know chaining a child was illegal.

The verdict is something of a victory for the head, Serigne Khadim Gueye, BBC West Africa correspondent Louise Dewast reports.

The six were arrested after the photo was widely shared of the children chained up in the northern town of Ndiagne.

All the defendants told the court that the parents had asked for their children to be chained up after they were caught skipping classes.

Sending children to Koranic schools is common in Senegal, but Human Rights Watch has highlighted “alarming rates” of abuse including rape, forced begging and imprisonment in some institutions.

Supporters of the teacher welcomed the suspended terms.

His brother, Mor Gueye, said he was “very happy” with the verdict.

“Cheikhouna is a good Muslim,” he said. “He works only for the Koran”.

Senegal has strong domestic laws banning child abuse, but human rights groups say that limited action has been taken to protect vulnerable children and prosecute their abusers.

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