Detained human rights activists in Tanzania could face “forced anal exams”

Tanzanian police have approached a court seeking an order granting them permission to perform “forced anal tests” on lawyers and activists in custody for “promoting homosexuality”.

This is according to a statement released by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on Tuesday. The ICJ said the police sought to perform these tests on nine men who remain in detention in order to collect evidence that they had performed sexual acts with other men, and prosecute them for such acts.

Thirteen people were arrested and detained last Tuesday after a consultation meeting between the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Southern Africa (ISLA) and Tanzanian organisation Community Health Services and Advocacy (CHESA). Two of them are South African.

They were meeting to deliberate challenging the Tanzanian government’s ban on drop-in centres serving people at risk of HIV and a ban on the importation of water-based lubricants that are an essential HIV prevention tool.

The ICJ said if carried out, “any ‘forced anal tests’ would violate the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.”

ISLA project lawyer, Matilda Lasseko, whose lawyers were detained in Tanzania, said it was an all-women team but could not confirm the “forced anal testing”.

ICJ condemned the arrests and called for their immediate release.

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