Update on addressing HIV-related discrimination through laws
In 2004, the African and Arab Parliamentarians Forum for Population and Development adopted the “Ndjamena Model Law” on the prevention, care and control of HIV/AIDS. It was intended for use as a guideline to help governments draft laws related to HIV. Over time, it became clear that some provisions in the model law needed improvement to ensure the incorporation of human rights and gender issues in the adoption and amendment of HIV-related legislation. The ATHENA Network and some of its member organizations drafted letters to explain what kinds of revisions were needed and these recommendations were considered at a workshop held in Dakar, Senegal, in April 2008. This meeting had participants from 15 West and Central Africa countries, including parliamentarians, human rights specialists, jurists, civil society members including people living with HIV and representatives of National AIDS Councils. The civil society participants represented ICW, SWAA (Society for Women and AIDS in Africa), RAP+,the International HIV/AIDS Alliance Africa Programme, ARASA and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.
Michaela Clayton (ARASA) and Richard Pearshouse (Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network) report that the Dakar workshop participants agreed to re-consider troubling elements of the model law. They also noted that parliamentarians from certain countries exhibited a genuine willingness to do what is right and effective and to reconsider particular revisions in their bills or laws. UNAIDS showed leadership in agreeing to co-ordinate and support processes of technical assistance at a country level.
The ATHENA Network played a key role in helping mobilize civil society responses to the model law – this can be counted as a real success for the Network and its allies.
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