Niger: Charges against woman sex worker arrested for HIV exposure are dropped following advocates intervention

Charges dropped/acquittal

Succesful outcome in a case of HIV Criminalisation

August 9, 2022
Source: Francophone Network

A sex worker living with HIV was arrested on Friday 29 July 2022 by the judicial police of Niamey. She was accused of having sexual relations with her clients without using condoms and without informing them of her HIV status. This was on the basis of a denunciation. On Tuesday 02 August 2022, she was placed under a committal order at the civil prison of Niamey and the trial hearing (in flagrante delicto) was set for Tuesday 09 August 2022.

The community was alerted by a doctor, director of the outpatient treatment centre in Niamey, whose team had been asked to perform an HIV test on the defendant.
RENIPOC – the new key population network in Niger – issued a statement alerting to this situation and asking for funding to provide legal assistance.
Songes – a sub-recipient of the Global Fund was able to provide this support.
An emergency meeting was organised on Friday 5 August 2022, convened by the coordinator of the PNLSH to find a way out. This meeting was attended by the UNAIDS Country Director, the UNAIDS Strategic Information Officer, the FM HIV-HSS grant coordinator, the Executive Director of RENIP+, the Chair of the RENIPOC Board of Directors, the HIV project officer of the NGO SongES and the President of the Association of Young Lawyers of Niger. During this meeting, it was decided to:
1.    To favour the voice of dialogue and conciliation, by requesting a meeting with the public prosecutor;
2.    Organise training for legal professionals (magistrates, lawyers) and the defence and security forces;
3.    Strengthen the multisectoral nature of the fight against AIDS by revitalising the role of the sectoral focal points (justice, education, parliamentarians, etc.).
UNAIDS met the prosecutor on 8 August and again on 9 August with the head of RENIPOC, just before the hearing. The impact of treatment on transmission risks was pointed out to the prosecutor.
Following the meeting, the complaint was withdrawn and the woman released at the hearing on 9 August.