Peter McKnight is an adjunct professor, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University.
"Ignorance," English poet Thomas Gray wrote, "is bliss." While those famous words were written in 1742, he could well have been describing the legal environment of the 21st century.
Actor Charlie Sheen certainly thinks so. In a recent television interview, he announced he is HIV-positive and that he had kept his HIV status secret for several years for fear of facing legal ramifications.
Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2015 in Malta (27-29 November), the Human Dignity Trust, in association with the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, has prepared an expansive report on the extent and the pernicious consequences of the criminalisation of homosexuality within the Commonwealth. This report is unparalleled in both the scope and depth of information it provides about the 40 Commonwealth countries which continue to criminalise LGBT people.
The criminalisation of homosexuality is undoubtedly a specific Commonwealth problem. The Commonwealth alone encompasses 2 billion of the 2.9 billion people worldwide who live in countries where it is a crime to be gay. This stems from the fact that many of these laws were originally put in place during British colonial rule. The Commonwealth institutions must do more to repeal these archaic laws if it is to truly become the human rights champion it claims to be.
The news that Hollywood actor Charlie Sheen could be sued for allegedly failing to reveal to former partners that he was HIV positive has highlighted the New Zealand laws as being in a "mess", according to a top law expert.
The Two And A Half Men star this week publicly announced that he was HIV positive and that he had known for the past four years.
A succession of women have now come forward claiming they had sexual relations with Sheen, but were unaware of his status as HIV positive.
Johannesburg — The need to uphold human rights - particularly sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) - should not be seen as a monopoly of the judiciary. The media has a sacred duty to ensure the three arms of the State cooperate and honour the fundamental rights of all the people, law professor Oagile Key Dingake says.
Journalists should tirelessly fulfil their watchdog role and should not shy away from criticising the judiciary if it makes controversial rulings that infringe on people's rights, taking into account the judiciary is not infallible or sacrosanct.
The biggest challenges to harm reduction are drugs policy and drugs laws, the Malaysian harm reduction leader Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman told the 24th International Harm Reduction Conference in Kuala Lumpur last week.
Numerous speakers said that punitive and prohibitionist drugs policies have restricted access to harm reduction services, contributed to the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, led to unnecessary drug overdoses, encouraged discrimination against people who use drugs, diminished respect for human rights, encouraged the use of compulsory treatment and resulted in the mass incarceration of people who use drugs.