Judicial Sensitisation on HIV and the Law in the Caribbean, 6 October 2011On 6 October 2011, the United Nations Development Programme supported by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law organised a panel discussion on ‘Judicial Sensitisation on HIV and the Law‘. The panel discussion was held during the 2nd Conference of the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers (CAJO 2011), in Nassau, Bahamas, and was a follow-up activity from the Commission’s Caribbean Regional Dialogue which took place in April 2011.
More than a hundred members of the Caribbean judiciary (i.e.: magistrates and judges from Supreme Courts, Appeal Courts and the Caribbean Court of Justice) attended the panel discussion chaired and moderated by Justice Adrian Saunders, CAJO Chairman and Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
Throughout the session, the panellists traversed the spectrum of the legal issues critical to addressing HIV, health and development in the Caribbean, including strategies for challenging stigma and discrimination and improving access to justice. Maria Tallarico, UNDP Regional Practice Leader for Latin America and the Caribbean, presented on the Science & Epidemiology of HIV in the Caribbean, the region having the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the world after sub-Saharan Africa and also where AIDS is the leading cause of death among men and women in the region. Prof. Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, Faculty of Law – University of the West Indies, described legal and constitutional frameworks in the Caribbean that were available to address issues of discrimination in the HIV context, and innovative ways in which jurisprudence could be developed to strengthen anti-discrimination law. Ivan Cruickshank, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC) addressed the impact of criminalisation on vulnerable populations such as sex workers and men who have sex with men. He described how criminalisation fuels stigma, discrimination and the denial of health and HIV services for the very groups in need of these services. Vivek Divan, a member of the Commission’s Technical Advisory Group, shared experiences of judicial sensitisation on HIV in India and some key jurisprudence that has emerged from the subcontinent on issues of HIV. In his final remarks, Justice Adrian Saunders acknowledged the importance of HIV and the law in the Caribbean context and the need for the judiciary to closely examine the issues raised in keeping with the CAJO conference’s theme of ‘bringing law closer to the people’.
Many participants expressed interest and support for judicial sensitisation on HIV. Notably, this was the first time a judicial sensitisation on issues of HIV and the law had taken place in the region. For UNDP, following up the work of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law with concrete activities that strengthen legal environments for effective HIV responses in the Caribbean is critical.
Web-story of the Panel Discussion on ‘Judicial Sensitisation on HIV and the Law’. CAJO 2011 – 6 October 2011, Nassau, Bahamas
HIV and the Law in the Caribbean: Fact Sheet
CAJO Chairman’s Report and Summaries of Panel discussions from the Conference