Senegal Nine Released, Charges Dropped
Concern persists for the well-being of the MSM detained since December
April 29, 2009—On December 19, 2008, in Senegal, West Africa, police raided a private residence and arrested and detained nine men, including Diadji Diouf, head of AIDES Senegal, an organization providing HIV prevention services to gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). Charged with “establishing an illegal organization” and “committing acts against the order of nature,” on January 6 these men were brought into court, summarily convicted, and sentenced to eight years in jail.
On April 20, an appeals court in Dakar overturned the charges against all nine defendants and set them free. Reports now indicate that the men are being subjected to public humiliation and rejection by their families and communities, are living in hiding and fearing for their lives. With the highly charged political climate surrounding this case, amfAR remains concerned for the safety and well-being of these men.
Senegal has a proud history in the fight against AIDS and amfAR applauds the Senegalese government for its past leadership in strengthening programs for vulnerable populations. However, as an international organization committed to health and human rights, amfAR joins UNAIDS and other organizations in calling upon the Senegalese government to use this opportunity to further advance the fight against HIV/AIDS and the cause of human rights by repealing laws that criminalize sex between consenting adults of the same gender.
As these events show, not only are these laws a violation of fundamental human rights, but they are incompatible with the delivery of HIV interventions and effective national responses to HIV. All major international AIDS organizations, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, have called for the elimination of all types of codified discrimination against those infected by, or exposed to, HIV.