Asia Pacific judges discuss HIV responsePublished on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 07:39
Thirty judges from sixteen Asia Pacific nations have met in Thailand to discuss how they can create a more supportive environment for people with HIV. The senior judges heard how progressive legal decisions can have a significant impact on the human rights of people with HIV at the forum in Bangkok. Dr Mandeep Dhaliwal, director of UNDP’s HIV, Health & Development Practice, has told Radio Australia’s Asia Pacific although judges work in different social and cultural contexts, they all have the same responsibility to protect human rights. “I think they can certainly play a role in reducing stigma both within the court room, the legal community, but also in the community at large,” she said.
“Judges are leaders in the community… the community looks to them to be unbiased, to rely on evidence and to protect human rights.” Ms Dhaliwal says international forums play a “very powerful” role, giving judges from different legal contexts the chance share experiences and best practice. “Listening to how judges have applied human rights principles and looked at evidence in other jurisdictions can help to inspire action,” she said. Ms Dhaliwal said examples shared included the Indian Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate a law criminalising homosexuality and the potential impact such a decision could have on a country’s population. During the conference UNAIDS also launched the first-ever judicial handbook on HIV, human rights and the law. “It’s a good compilation of the issues that are likely to come before the court in a range of settings… to provide the judges with some guidance as they interpret the law,” Ms Dhaliwal said.
Source: Australia Network News (with photo courtesy UNDP)