ARASA and SADC PF Human and Social Development and Special Programmes Regional Standing Committee Meeting on Criminalisation of HIV exposure and transmission

Posted by Mutaleni on May 27, 2015

From 27 to 28 May 2015, ARASA and SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) will support the interrogation of criminalisaton of HIV exposure and transmission in the SADC region by SADC PF's Human and Social Development and Special Programmes Standing Committee. Parliamentarians from DRC, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, Seychelles, Tanzania, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe are attending the meeting hosted in Gaborone, Botswana.

In the past these meetings have been held back to back with the Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC PF, the supreme policy making organ of the SADC PF. This will be the first time that they are held separately to allow for Members of Parliament to consult on critical issues of regional importance and concern ahead of the 37th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC PF, scheduled for July 2015 in Durban, South Africa, where the outcome of the resolutions of the Committee will be considered.

Typically, Standing Committee Meetings afford Members of Parliament an opportunity to firstly, consider issues raised by the SADC Council of Ministers and Heads of States and governments at the regional level, and secondly, to discuss in depth progress being made by countries on issues as they relate to sectorial issues such as food, agriculture, poverty alleviation natural resources, infrastructure development, regional integration, HIV &AIDS, gender equality, youth development and democracy and governance. Reports from these meetings are presented to the Plenary Assembly, for policy formulation and endorsement ahead of implementation.

During this meeting, which is being held with the financial support from the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), Africa Capacity Building foundation, and the European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA), experts will present information  before Committees  on various issues and themes to enable Members of Parliament to evaluate progress made and appreciate issues that require their action from an evidence-based and  informed basis.

Expectations are that powerful speakers who have had a marked influence on the region’s case law and human rights that include a prominent High Court Judge and academic will participate in a robust discourse organised by the Regional Standing Committee of the Human and Development & Special Programmes of the SADC PF on why criminalization of wilful transmission of HIV cannot be an option for the public health good.  

Given the vexing issues that have emerged in the region on using criminal law to prevent exposure or transmission of HIV, our view is that it is important that Members of Parliament discuss this issue and are exposed to the latest, evidence-based thinking on this highly polarised issue because as elected representatives of the people, they hold sway over their constituents. Accordingly, it is our considered view that well researched presentations would expose them to the current body of knowledge with respect to criminalisation so that they lead, advocate and legislate on the basis of evidence rather than emotions. 

For more details kindly contact Mr Moses E.D. Magadza, PRO, SRHR, SADC PF, or telephone number: +264 061 2870018