South Asian Legal Fraternity and Communities gather to discuss Human Rights Challenges Faced by Key Populations at Higher Risk of HIV, Kathmandu, Nepal, 8-10 November 2011
- Published on Thursday, 10 November 2011 04:12
These violations include police harassment, sexual assault and violence, as well as discrimination, job dismissal, unequal access to education, housing and reduced access to HIV treatment. The International Development Law Organization (IDLO) in collaboration with the legal apex body for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARCLAW), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNAIDS, and the World Bank; co-hosted a South Asian Roundtable Dialogue on HIV and the Law at the Yak and Yeti Hotel, Kathmandu from 8-10 November 2011.
The objectives of the Legal and Policy Barriers to the HIV Response Roundtable were to identify legal and policy barriers to HIV prevention, treatment and care services for people living with HIV, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender persons, sex workers and people who inject drugs. The Roundtable aimed to identify and analyze strategies and initiatives to address these barriers and strengthen the rights-based response to HIV in their respective countries.
The Roundtable commenced on 8 November 2011 with a welcome reception and formal address by Vice President of SAARCLAW, Honourable Justice Kalayan Shrestha of the Supreme Court of Nepal. Hon Justice Shrestha emphasized the role of the state in the legal response to HIV, stating ‘No philosophy, no religion and no culture which reinforces discrimination against and denies human rights to [people living with HIV] is acceptable. The state must defend [people living with HIV];… complacency of any form on the part of the state is also a form of discrimination.
President of SAARCLAW, Hon. Chief Justice Sonam Tobyge of Bhutan echoed the importance of the rights of people living with HIV and key populations at higher rigk of exposure to HIV, stating ‘the Roundtable Dialogue symbolizes the universal and eternal message of hope and joy in life to the multitude of [persons]affected by HIV in the region.’ The Roundtable brought together 75 delegates from across South Asia including community advocates, lawyers, judges, representatives of human rights institutions, parliamentarians and government agencies.
The Roundtable was a direct follow up to the Asia Pacific Regional Dialogue of the Global Commission on HIV and Law convened by the UNDP in February 2011 in Bangkok. The Roundtable supported the commitments to advance human rights to reduce stigma, discrimination and violence related to HIV as well as the region-specific commitments, which were adopted, by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Resolutions 66/10 and 67/9.
It also emphasized the need “to ground universal access in human rights and undertake measures to address stigma and discrimination, as well as policy and legal barriers to effective HIV responses, in particular with regard to key affected populations.” Over two days delegates shared regional lessons in human rights based interventions and initiatives.
In addition to those noted above, formal speakers during the Roundtable include Hon. Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka; Vice President of SAARCLAW, Hon. Justice Umesh C Banerjee (retd), Supreme Court of India and President of the SAARCLAW India Chapter; the Hon Sapana Pradhan Malla, Member of Parliament Nepal; and Secretary General of SAARCLAW, Mr Hemant Batra. Participants also heard from Vice President of SAARCLAW and President of SAARCLAW Bhutan Chapter, Hon. Justice Tshering Wangchuk; Secretary General of SAARCLAW Nepal Chapter, Mr Purna Man Shakya; SAARCLAW Executive Council Member, Registrar General of the High Court of Bhutan, Ms Pelden Wangmo.
The Roundtable was supported by the World Bank, UNDP, the Global Fund for AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria and OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).
Press Release ‘South Asian Legal Fraternity and Communities gather to discuss Human Rights Challenges Faced by Key Populations at Higher Risk of HIV’. SAARCLAW, IDLO, UNDP