Teacher jailed for beating boys
Senegal - A Senegal court sentenced on Tuesday a teacher at a Koranic school to one in year in prison for beating and severely injuring two of his students aged nine and 12 years, a court official said.
The sentence was lower than the three years in jail asked for by the prosecutor and comes after Human Rights Watch highlighted the plight of tens of thousands of such students, saying they lived in conditions akin to slavery.
According to a medical report presented to the court, the two young boys were incapacitated for 21 days after they were severely beaten at their religious school in the Grand-yoff area on the outskirts of Dakar.
The teacher told the court "he did not want to torture his disciples but to correct them, because they ran away very often or only came back late at night", according to an account of the trial released by the Senegalese Press Agency.
Tens of thousands of children are sent to Islamic schools in Senegal, where the issue of their mistreatment is often raised although prosecutions are rare.
In 2008 a Koranic teacher was sentenced to three years in jail at Kaoloack, 189km from Dakar, for mistreating an eight-year-old.
Human Rights Watch said in April that some of the schools forced children to beg for hours on the streets, or subjected them to "physical and psychological abuse".
"At least 50 000 children attending hundreds of residential Koranic schools, or daaras, in Senegal are subjected to conditions akin to slavery and forced to endure often extreme forms of abuse, neglect, and exploitation by the teachers, or marabouts, who serve as their de facto guardians," it said.
Days later Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean raised the report with President Abdoulaye Wade during an official visit to Dakar and demanded Senegal deal with the problem.