Men wearing face masks in Baraka district of Dakar, Senegal, May 2 2020. Picture: REUTERS/ZOHARI BENSEMRA
Men wearing face masks in Baraka district of Dakar, Senegal, May 2 2020. Picture: REUTERS/ZOHARI BENSEMRA

Dakar — Senegal's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a ban on repatriating the bodies of citizens living abroad who have died of coronavirus.

A group of families with dead relatives abroad had sought to overturn the ban on the grounds that it violated their rights in the Muslim-majority West African country.

Senegal's government had ruled out bringing back the bodies to stem the spread of the virus.

Family members have said that about  80 Senegalese have died from Covid-19 overseas, including 40 in France.

On Thursday, their lawyers said that the Supreme Court's decision had caused deep distress.

They had argued during the proceedings that the health risk of bringing back bodies was “non-existent”, and that the ban infringed religious rights.

The relatives have spoken of the difficulty of mourning without a burial, and said they feared that unless they keep up payments to maintain the bodies, they could be buried wherever they are being stored. Some have already been buried in this way, said a relative Tamsir Ousmane Ba.

AFP