Mission by Senior UNDP Policy Advisors to Jamaica Yields Positive Engagement from Parliamentarians on Implementation of Recommendations of the Global Commission on HIV and the LawPublished on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 03:44
Senior UNDP policy advisors on Parliamentary Development and HIV, Health and Development, including Charles Chauvel, former Commissioner of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, recently completed a joint mission to Jamaica as part of follow up work on the recommendations of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law. The mission was conducted to promote and build on efforts already underway in the country on parliamentary implementation of legal reform as well as to contribute to development of a strategy to strengthen parliamentary engagement on HIV and the law, which is due to be completed within this year. According to the latest UNAIDS data, there are an estimated 28,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Jamaica. Jamaica’s circumstances concerning its ability to provide future HIV treatment for PLHIV and sustain prevention initiatives is particularly vulnerable. Already reaching less than 65% coverage of affected populations with antiretroviral treatment, it is facing imminent loss of critical support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria as a result of its recent reclassification by the Bretton Woods institutions as a middle-income country. Coinciding with this, infection rates are increasing amongst certain key populations, including women, young people and men who have sex with men (MSM). Some progress in respect to legal reform – the Domestic Violence Act, the Property Rights of Spouses Act, the Maintenance Act – is either underway or has already been attained; however, more is necessary. Factsheets on youth, women, and key populations in Jamaica, produced for this mission, make the following select recommendations for action:
- Ensure teaching of comprehensive, age-appropriate, culturally relevant, sexuality education in schools.
- Improve social support programmes to reduce incentives to pursue inter-generational sex.
- Realize the 2011 Declaration of Commitment by prohibiting discrimination based on gender and advancing gender equity.
- In line with the Domestic Violence Act, strengthen laws prohibiting gender-based violence, including for harassment, sexual violence, and marital rape.
- Continue expansion of the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) programme to reach all HIV positive pregnant women.
- Investigate and prosecute harassment and violence against MSM, transgender people, including the recent murder of Dwayne Jones, and sex workers.
- Guarantee the right to privacy for all individuals accessing public services, and provide training to ensure confidentiality in health settings.
- Strengthen community collaborations to identify and address the health needs of transgender people.
- Decriminalize or repeal sodomy/“buggery” laws.
- Continue to strengthen outreach programmes to sex workers, and decriminalize sex work to reduce instances of violence and police abuse.
Joined by members of the UN Country Team, the delegation met with key government officials and representatives from civil society organizations, including Minister of Justice Mark Golding, Chief Justice Zaila Mcalla, the Speaker, Senate President and key Members of Parliament, and public servants from Ministries of Health, Justice and Commerce. Outcomes of the meetings included:
- Plans for a technical briefing to the Ministers of Health, Justice and Commerce on the TRIPS flexibilities that should be incorporated into the new patent legislation to ensure that Jamaica can take maximum advantage of the freedom to import cheaper pharmaceutical products it will need to access once Global Fund support ends.
- Plans for a technical briefing to the Minsters of Health and Justice on the amendments required from a public health point of view to the sexual offences legislation.
- Key factsheets related to HIV and the recommendations of the Global Commission to be disseminated to all Members of Parliament in advance of upcoming parliamentary votes.
- A soon-to-be- published legal assessment and gap analysis report, a critical tool for parliamentarians to be informed of the legal frameworks relevant to HIV, to be shared with the Speaker of the House of Assembly and to the Clerk of the Houses of Parliament and will be formally launched at Parliament House.
- A toolkit for engaging parliamentarians to implement the recommendations of the report of the Global Commission will be produced, informed by the experiences of the mission.
Related resources Youth in Jamaica Factsheet English Women in Jamaica Factsheet English Key Populations in Jamaica Factsheet English Related links Caribbean Regional Dialogue of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law Judicial Sensitisation on HIV and the Law in the Caribbean, 6 October 2011 Brief overview of the National Dialogue on Human Rights, HIV and the Law in Belize, 12-13 October, 2011 Brief overview of the National Dialogue on HIV and the Law in Panama, 5-6 December 2011