Punitive laws by African countries against people living with HIV/AIDS will only escalate the problem-Allan Maleche
London, Dec. 13, 2018 (AltAfrica)-Despite progress made through the mobilisation of civil society organisation and the international community, the HIV epidemic on African continent is still a matter of concern.
In many regions in Africa, people living with HIV particularly those at risk continue to face numerous obstacles in terms of testing and access to prevention, treatment, care and other HIV-related services. Such obstacles include economic barriers, prejudice and stereotypes, gender inequalities,harmful socio-cultural practices and the persistence of stigma and discrimination in health facilities.
The existence of punitive laws and restrictive policies and practices along with the lack of a conducive legal environment for the effective protection of the rights of people living with HIV and those at risk in most African States are some of the current challenges impeding the HIV response in the continent and affecting efforts to reach the 90–90–90 target.
For instance, more than 25 countries in Africa have adopted laws that explicitly allow for the criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, exposure or transmission. This according to experts is problematic, because overly broad criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, exposure or transmission raises both public health and human rights concerns.
Rather than achieving justice or preventing HIV transmission, laws or prosecutions for HIV non-disclosure, exposure or transmission perpetuate stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. They create barriers to accessing prevention, treatment and care services, and they expose already marginalised groups (such as sex workers and people who inject drugs) to further discrimination and persecution.
These laws and prosecutions often relate to acts that represent no risk of HIV transmission, and they involve disproportionately high penalties.
Furthermore, laws allowing for HIV criminalisation can be vague and ambiguous,and they pose a serious risk of unfair application and the miscarriage of justice
In light of these considerations and in recognition of the importance of ensuring a human rights perspective to the fight against the epidemic and to the management of its repercussions the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission) deemed it necessary to undertake a study on HIV, the law and human rights.
In spite of its recommendation how far has the continent gone in protecting the rights of these groups of people, Olabisi Adesina of Alternativeafrica.com speaks with Allan Maleche Executive Director of
( KELIN), the Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS and winner of the 2018 prestigious Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award on how wide spread is the issues of rights violation of people living with the virus on the continent
Our guest, Allan Maleche is the Board Member representing Developing County NGOs on the Global Fund Board. He is a dynamic thought leader in the field of global health governance, with over a decade of experience in promoting ethical, human rights-based approaches to health planning, programming and service delivery.
His work has substantively focused on HIV and tuberculosis in Kenya. He has served as Chair of the Implementers Group of the Global Fund Board, which represents ten diverse government and civil society constituencies.
He is the founding Executive Director of Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN). In 2016, he was named Kenya’s Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year
Allan has woven together the diverse ten constituencies of the Implementers Group to develop a set of shared priorities, strengthen internal governance and communications among constituencies, and collectively produced a road-map that tackles important issues, including: absorptive capacity, sustainability & transition, and human rights & gender equality.
He has championed the Global Fund replenishment process in Kenya and globally As an implementer, in a developing country. KELIN under the leadership of Allan has provided technical assistance for the Global Fund on community, rights and gender, and has provided technical support in Kenya and South Sudan, conducting legal environment assessments and identifying measures to mitigate human rights risks to Global Fund-financed programs.
KELIN is part of a regional grant from the Global Fund which focuses on removing legal barriers to access services by key populations in HIV and TB in 10 African Countries.
Allan is winner of the 2018 prestigious Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award