- Amnesty International has pleaded with the Senegalese government to protect nine men who had been acquitted on charges of homosexuality fearing the possible homophobic attacks in the Islamic dominated West African state.
Deputy Director of the Africa Programme Veronique Aubert said the decision by the Court of Appeal in Dakar to release them after they initially received an eight-year sentence was an indication that the men were not guilty.
“These nine men were prisoners of conscience, sentenced solely on the basis of alleged sexual conduct, and should never have been jailed in the first place,” said Ms Aubert in a statement.
According to Amnesty International, since their release on 20 April, the media and an Islamic organisation have disseminated homophobic statements describing the nine men as “vicious” or “perverts” spreading AIDS.
“Radio programmes have broadcast messages calling on the population to attack and throw stones at anyone suspected of 'being a homosexual'. These statements amount to advocacy of hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence,” the organisation said in a statement.
The nine men were arrested in Dakar on 19 December 2008 following anonymous accusations with regards to their sexual behaviour.
The deputy director said Senegal has over the last two years seen an increase in homophobic attacks, arbitrary arrests and increased hostility towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, same-sex practicing and transgender people in the country.
Amnesty International is also calling for an investigation into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment against the nine men while they were in custody at the Mbao Sicap police station in Dakar, and for those responsible to be brought to justice.
Under Senegalese penal code, homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment of between one and five years and a fine of US $200 to 3,000 CFA francs, but the judge added three years to the maximum five-year sentence after ruling that the men were also members of a criminal organisation.
Senegal is one of Africa's strongest suppressors of gays and lesbians.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.