The United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review has issued recommendations to Tunisia to decriminalise same-sex conduct and specifically to end forced anal examinations of persons accused of “sodomy” under article 230 of the criminal code. This follows the statement published by National Council of the Medical Order in Tunisia on 3 April 2017, calling for doctors to cease conducting forced anal and genital examinations.
The IRCT strongly urges the Tunisian Government to accept these recommendations and acknowledge the National Council’s statement, which is not the first of its kind to call for an end to forced anal examinations.
Last May 2016, the Independent Forensic Expert Group (IFEG) published an expert statement strongly condemning the practice of anal examinations in cases of alleged homosexual activity. The statement called these examinations medically and scientifically worthless and unethical, constituting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and possibly torture. The IFEG also questioned the ability of any individual to provide consent to these examinations:
“In our experience, ensuring informed consent is almost impossible for examinations based on profound discrimination and criminalisation, where individuals understand that State officials have the power to compel the examination, and non-compliance is likely to result in adverse legal outcomes, ill-treatment, and reprisals. For this reason, anal examinations and other tests targeting “homosexuality” should be presumed to be conducted forcibly and without informed consent.”
IFEG’s statement was widely cited by both international and national outlets worldwide. Following the issuance of the IFEG’s statement condemning forced anal examinations, the UN Committee Against Torture condemned the use of anal exams in Tunisia in its May 2016 Concluding Observations. The European External Action Service asked Tunisia to immediately stop conducting these examinations at an EU-Tunisia human rights dialogue in January 2017.
For more information
See the news story of one of IRCT’s advocacy partners on this issue, Human Rights Watch.