|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
A report published by Amnesty International titled “Senegal Land of Impunity” and presented to the media on the 15 September 2010 in Dakar, Senegal, has denounced the use of torture to extract “confessions” and convict alleged homosexuals.The report further condemns the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of other serious human rights violations. In the report Amnesty International reflects on the case of nine men, most of them, members of AIDES Senegal, an organization that provides HIV/AIDS prevention services to men who have sex with other men (MSM) whose accusations of homosexuality and the trial were widely talked about in January 2009 in Dakar.
The report reveals that “in this particular case, the court ignored denunciations of acts of torture made by the detainees and theirs lawyers and the police continued to ill treat them after they had confessed under torture, by subjecting them to xenophobic attacks and insults.”
One of the men interviewed by Amnesty International in 2009, while in detention at Rebeuss Prison in Dakar, gave a testimony of the terrible ordeal he and his co-accused suffered at the hands of police officers.
In the testimony is it mentioned that the police officers asked the men if they were “goordjiguen”, a local expression meaning gay men and that literally means “man-woman”. The men were also physically abused by the police and were forced to confess that they were gay.
According to Amnesty International, confessions extracted under torture are admissible evidence for many Senegalese courts and people are usually “convicted to long terms of imprisonment on the basis of “confessions” extracted under torture, even though there was overwhelming evidence that the confessions had been extracted under torture”.
“During the trial this detainee described the physical abuse he suffered during his detention but the public prosecutor did not open an investigation. The court concluded that AIDES Senegal was a “cover to recruit or organize meetings for homosexuals, under the pretext of providing HIV/AIDS prevention programs”, the report explains.
Although the nine men were sentenced to eight year in prison for “indecent conduct and unnatural acts and conspiracy” a sentence more severe than the one required by the public prosecutor and later released in April 2009 after many protests by national and international human rights
organizations, “no investigation was made into the allegations of torture and most of the men had to enter into semi clandestinity or leave the country in order to escape hostility and harassment from the general public” Amnesty International concludes.