Judiciary, partners launch ‘Judicial Handbook on HIV and the Law’ to eliminate negative discriminatory approaches in handling cases of PLHIV in the courtroom

By Kalyango Collins Jairus

The Uganda Network on Law Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) in partnership with the judiciary, the AIDS Support Organization (TASO), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched the Judicial Handbook on HIV, Human Rights, and the Law in Uganda as a tool to eliminate negative discriminatory approaches in handling cases of people living with HIV – PLHIV in the courtroom. #WhisperEyeNews

The event held on International Human Rights Day at Protea Hotel in Kampala was graced by the Chief Justice of Uganda, Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny-Dollo represented by Mr. Ssekaana Musa, the High Court Judge who is also the Civil Division Head.

The CJ says that the enactment of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act, 2014 in Uganda introduced serious challenges in litigating and adjudicating HIV/AIDS-related cases in the courtroom.

“The law introduced among others involuntary disclosure of one’s HIV status more especially those with the knowledge that are HIV+. This disclosure is wide as it relates to all persons in social contact with the person making the disclosure. This has created negative discriminatory approaches in handling cases of PLHIV in the courtroom.”

He said that the Act has been in place for now about 7 years but most of the cases prosecuted in courts have not been commenced under this Act instead under the Penal Code Act Cap. 120, specifically under Section 171 of the Act.

“Despite this legislation, limited legal literature exists on litigation and adjudication of HIV/AIDS cases in Uganda and most of the existing literature is foreign especially, the UNAIDS HIV and Human Rights Adjudication, 2007.

Challenges faced by Judicial officers are several in this area and some relate to comprehending matters of science and especially proving whether or not the accused had the intention to transmit HIV/AIDS to the victim. Scientific evidence may prove to the contrary, taking into account the viral load of an accused person.”

This Handbook, the Chief Justice says has come at the appropriate time when cases concerning HIV/AIDS adjudication are increasing in the criminal justice system in Uganda.

“The Handbook is presented in a user-friendly language and style with reference to clear jurisprudence on HIV/AIDS litigation and adjudication domestically, regionally, and on the global arena.”

UGANET Executive Director Ms. Dorah Kiconco Musinguzi said that the move is intended to recognize the law and human rights and to make an acknowledgment that HIV is a human rights and gender issue that impacts both women and men differently.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *