ARASA welcomes the opportunity to make a statement in response to the Activity Report of the Chairperson of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the African Comission for Human and People's Rights

Posted by Editor on May 22, 2017

ARASA welcomes the opportunity to make a statement in response to the Activity Report of the Chairperson of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the African Comission for Human and People's Rights

 22 May 2017

Madame Chairperson, Honourable Commissioner Mute, the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) appreciates that the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa, in its intersession report, has taken note of the deeply disturbing practice of forced anal examinations in prosecutions for consensual homosexual conduct in several African countries, including in Tanzania and Kenya. In Tanzania, 9 men were arrested in Zanzibar in December 2016 on homosexuality charges and subjected to forced anal exams. In March 2017, another man was arrested and also subjected to anal exams. These cases are currently open. The use of such exams has also been documented in Uganda and Zambia as well as other countries in the Africa region. As the report notes, forced anal examinations are “medically worthless and amount to torture and ill-treatment.”

These examinations, Madame Chairperson, which have the purported objective of finding “proof” of homosexual conduct, often involve doctors or other medical personnel forcibly inserting their fingers, and sometimes other objects, into the anus of the accused. Victims of forced anal testing have reported that they found the exams painful and degrading; some experienced them as a form of sexual violence.

We appreciate that General Comment No 4 condemns forced anal exams as a form of sexual and gender based violence. No one should be subjected to these invasive, humiliating, and unscientific exams.

We strongly encourage the African Commission to take further steps to investigate the use of forced anal exams in Africa and to advocate against them, and we urge all countries to cease the use of forced anal exams immediately.

We call on the African Commission to urge African states to ban the use of anal examinations on men and transgender women accused of consensual same-sex conduct. Such bans should take place at several levels in order to ensure that the practice of forced anal examinations is eliminated, including:[1]

-        To the extent allowed under domestic law, Ministries of Justice should prohibit judges and magistrates from admitting the results of anal examinations into evidence in cases involving charges of consensual same-sex conduct or other private sexual behavior between adults.

-        Law enforcement agencies, including public prosecutors offices and police departments, should prohibit law enforcement officials from ordering anal examinations of suspects. They should ensure that medical personnel who refuse to conduct the exams do not face any legal consequences.

-        National Human Rights Institutions should conduct investigations into the use of forced anal examinations and should call on the relevant authorities to put a stop to the practice.

Thank you Madame Chairperson and Honorable Comissioners for your kind attention. 

ENDS

Read the full African Commission on Human and People's Rights Inter-session Activity Report (October 2016 - May 2017) and Annual Situation of Torture and other Ill-Treatment in Africa Report by Commissioner Lawrence M. Mute here: http://www.achpr.org/files/sessions/60th/inter-act-reps/279/60os_inter_session_report_cpta_comm_mute_eng.pdf

[1]Human Rights Watch report, July 2016 - Dignity Debased: Forced Anal Examinations in Homosexuality Prosecutions https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/07/12/dignity-debased/forced-anal-examinations-homosexuality-prosecutions