HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE Launch
In March 2016, seven civil society networks from around the globe, most of them led by people living with HIV, launched the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE coalition to coordinate a global response to the unjust use of laws against people with HIV.
HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE founding partners* and supporters at the launch of the
coalition in Brighton, March 24th 2016. Back row L-R: Rhon Reynolds (GNP+*),
Edwin J Bernard (HIV Justice Network*), Jessica Whitbread (ICW*), Boyan
Konstantinov (UNDP), Patrick Eba (UNAIDS), Sean Strub (SERO*). Front row L-R:
Julian Hows (GNP+*), Sylvie Beaumont (HIV Justice Network*), Cécile Kazatchkine
(Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network*), Naina Khanna (PWN-USA*) and Michaela
Advancing HIV Justice 2: Building momentum in global advocacy against HIV criminalisation
Our Advancing HIV Justice 2 report revealed that although HIV criminalisation is a growing, global phenomenon, advocates around the world are working hard to ensure that the criminal law’s approach to people living with HIV fits with key legal and human rights principles as well as recognising up-to-date science.
Read or download the report here.
HIV Is Not a Crime Training Academy
The Sero Project and Positive Women’s Network-USA jointly organised the HIV Is Not a Crime Training Academy, designed to galvanise momentum towards intersectional approaches to ending HIV criminalisation.
Held at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, the meeting brought together more than 300 advocates from 34 US states, as well as delegations from Canada and Mexico, building new relationships and providing participants with new skills to help address HIV criminalisation locally, nationally and regionally.
Since the training academy we’ve seen tremendous advances and strategic and fierce organising led primarily by people living with HIV.
Reaching a global TV/web audience on The Stream
ARASA’s Executive Director, Michaela Clayton, HIV Justice Network’s Global Co-ordinator, Edwin J Bernard, and SERO advisory board member, Ken Pinkela, reached a global audience on both TV and the internet with a 30 minute programme on The Stream, on Al Jazeera English. Anand Grover, Senior Advocate at Supreme Court of India, founder of India’s Lawyers Collective, and a former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health also appeared.
Beyond Blame @AIDS2016
The HIV Justice Network and ARASA co-organised the Beyond Blame pre-conference prior to AIDS 2016 in Durban on behalf of the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE coalition. The meeting allowed advocates from 36 countries to strategise and build power together and also placed HIV criminalisation on the main conference stage.
ARASA and the Canadian AIDS Legal Network also co-hosted the Human Rights Networking Zone in the Global Village at AIDS 2016.
Supporting the Veracruz legal challenge at the Mexican Supreme Court
HIV Justice Network’s Global Co-ordinator, Edwin J Bernard, and SERO’s Executive Director, Sean Strub, joined advocates in Mexico City to highlight a letter of support from HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE to a legal challenge to the HIV-specific criminal law in Veracruz undertaken by the Mexican Human Rights Commission and the Veracruz Multisectoral Group.
This was followed by a march from the Human Rights Commission’s building to the Supreme Court of Justice, where the letter was officially registered as a friend of the court submission.
(Pictured: Edwin J Bernard and Patricia Ponce, of the Veracruz Multisectoral Group presenting the letter to the Supreme Court.)
Second HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE Strategy Meeting
At our second HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE strategy meeting, our growing number of partners and supporters spent three days discussing ways to work closer together to further enhance the capacity of advocates to challenge and influence law-, policy- and decision-makers to prevent or stop unjust use of criminal laws against people living with HIV.
(L-R): Nicholas Feustel (Video Advocacy Consultant, HIV Justice Network*); Sean Strub (Sero Project*); Catherine Murphy (Amnesty International); Evgenia Maron (EECA Consultant); Sylvie Beaumont (Research/Outreach Co-ordinator, HIV Justice Network*); Seth Earn (AIDS Free World*); Patrick Eba (UNAIDS); Laurel Sprague (formerly HJN’s Research Fellow on HIV, Gender and Justice, now Executive Director, GNP+*); Edwin J Bernard (Global Co-ordinator, HIV Justice Network*); Lynette Mabote (ARASA*); Richard Elliott (Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network*); Naina Khanna (PWN-USA*); Julian Hows (GNP+*); Ferenc Bagyinszky (AIDS Action Europe); and Sally Cameron (Senior Policy Analyst, HIV Justice Network*).
Other participants at the meeting, but not pictured here, were: Sophie Brion (ICW*), Lisa Power (Chair, Supervisory Board, HIV Justice Network*) and Boyan Konstantinov (UNDP).
HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE opens to new members
In June 2017, we invited organisations from around the world who share our values and principles to join the movement. As of March 2018, more than 70 organisations have joined the seven founding partners to become part of our vibrant global community of advocates fighting to abolish HIV-related criminalisation.
Presenting our work to philanthropic funders in Washington DC at the Funders Concerned About AIDS Summit
In September, three HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE founding members – Laurel Sprague, Executive Director of the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+), Lynette Mabote, Regional Programmes Lead at ARASA and HIV Justice Network’s Global Co-ordinator, Edwin Bernard – presented at the Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA) Philanthropy Summit in Washington DC on the worldwide movement to end HIV criminalisation, alongside our key partner, Luisa Cabal, Special Adviser on Human Rights and Gender at UNAIDS. The session was chaired by Sergey Votyagov, Executive Director of the Robert Carr civil society Networks Fund, which funds the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE coalition.
First-ever European Legal Environments Training Academy takes place in Berlin
In September 2017, the first European HIV Academy for Enabling Legal Environments brought together 35 advocates from 20 countries working on HIV-related law and policy reform across the WHO Europe region.
This European Legal Environments Training Academy (#ELETA) was a joint collaboration of three HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE Steering Committee members AIDS Action Europe, Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+) and HIV Justice Network plus the European AIDS Treatment Group.
Launch of the (English-language) online HIV JUSTICE Toolkit
In October 2017, we launched the HIV Justice Toolkit, which aims to support advocates to oppose HIV criminalisation at all levels – from educating communities and lawmakers to defending individual cases.
The Toolkit is a comprehensive compendium of almost 300 documents and videos, organised under twelve main headings, each of which is broken down into futher subsections. The entire Toolkit is also searchable by keyword.
Although the Toolkit is currently only available in English, where documents already exist in other languages, these are included, and a French version is due in 2018.
Mexico's first ‘HIV is Not A Crime’ meeting leads to new Network and impressive early results
In October 2017 the first Spanish-language ‘HIV Is Not A Crime’ meeting took place in Mexico City, supported by the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE coalition.
The two-day meeting brought together people living with HIV, activists, lawyers, human rights defenders, and academics from across Mexico – alongside HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE partners CNET+ (Belize), Sero Project (USA), and the HIV Justice Network – to discuss the current state of HIV criminalisation nationally, regionally and globally.
As a result of the meeting, the Mexican Network of organisations against the criminalisation of HIV was formed, bringing together 29 organizations from all over the country. During, and immediately following the meeting, the Network drafted an 11-point Declaration addressed to various governmental agencies in charge of responding to the epidemic, as well as to society in general.
With two weeks of the meeting, Network representatives met with Congresswoman Laura Beristain, who had proposed the new unjust, overly broad HIV criminal law in Quintana Roo. She listened to their arguments, read the Declaration, and immediately gave a firm commitment to repeal Quintana Roo’s problematic provisions in Article 113.
Celebrating the adoption of Malawi's amended HIV Law that removes rights-infringing provisions
On Tuesday, 28 November, Malawi Members of Parliament voted to reject coercive and criminalising provisions that threatened human rights in a long-deliberated HIV (Prevention and Management) Bill.
Support from a number of HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE Steering Committee members resulted in the galvanising of women activists in Malawi, who protested before Parliament against a number of rights-infringing provisions in the HIV Bill, including mandatory HIV testing and treatment for select populations on a discriminatory basis, and provisions that would have criminalised negligent, reckless and intentional HIV exposure and transmission.
You can read the press release from HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE partners (ARASA, GNP+ and SALC) celebrating this important achievement.
An important, but modest, advance in improving the legal environment for people living with HIV in Canada
Following years of advocacy from HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE founding partner, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and their allies in the Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalisation, it was announced by Federal and Provincial ministers on World AIDS Day that the latest science relating to the prevention benefit of HIV treatment should be taken into consideration when prosecuting alleged HIV non-disclosure: an important, but modest advance.
There is a now a call for both a moratorium on all HIV-related prosecutions and a review of existing convictions and for a more radical overhaul of Canada’s framing of HIV non-disclosure as aggravated sexual assault.
HIV criminalisation in francophone Africa highlighted at ICASA
As a side event to the ICASA conference in Côte d’Ivoire in early December, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network organised a unique meeting on HIV criminalisation in francophone Africa on behalf of HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE.
Bringing together people living with HIV, activists, lawyers and a judge, as well as organizations representing or working with the LGBTI communities, drug users and sex workers in North, West and Central Africa, this meeting helped lay the foundations for a francophone network against HIV criminalisation.
New Steering Committee Members Join HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE
“The criminalization of HIV is an insidious attack on human rights and one that dangerously undermines global efforts to combat the epidemic. We are thrilled to join the Steering Committee of HIV JUSTICE WORLWIDE and contribute to its important work combatting HIV criminalisation around the world.” Paula Donovan and Stephen Lewis, Co-Directors, AIDS-Free World
“Despite recent developments in some countries of Europe and the scientific evidence, many of our countries still have and apply HIV-specific criminalization, which needs joint advocacy efforts to address and change. That is why AIDS Action Europe is delighted and honoured to join the Steering Committee of HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE and work together via our European HIV Legal Forum project to end the unjust and harmful criminalization of our communities.” Ferenc Bagyinszky, Project Manager, AIDS Action Europe / European HIV Legal Forum
“In the last year, southern Africa has seen efforts to introduce new, overly-broad laws criminalising HIV transmission and exposure in Malawi, unjust prosecutions for HIV exposure in Zimbabwe and Malawi, and undertakings by the Zambian government to coerce HIV testing and treatment. Collective and coordinated resistance to these trends and action to ensure justice and human rights are at the forefront of the HIV response is critical. We have seen the success in our own advocacy and litigation on the rights of people living with HIV and key populations of working with strong networks of local, regional and international partners. We are honoured to join HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE as Steering Committee members to contribute to this important movement.” Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director, Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC)
Equipping lawyers and activists across Africa with the skills to counter HIV and TB criminalisation
Over 80 lawyers and activists from 27 African countries gathered from 20 to 23 February 2018 for a four-day training workshop aimed at equipping lawyers and activists with skills and knowledge on HIV and TB criminalisation.
The training was hosted by HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE Steering Committee members, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) and HIV Justice Network, along with Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN), Stop TB Partnership and UNAIDS, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Africa Regional Grant on HIV: Removing Legal Barriers.
An important new resource for lawyers defending clients and working on strategic litigation, the HIV Criminalisation Defence Case Compendium was published by SALC to accompany the training.
Read more on the UNDP Africa website.
New Toolkit Supports Advocates in Using Media to Fight for HIV Justice
In March 2018, HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE released the latest addition to the HIV JUSTICE Toolkit, “Making Media Work for HIV Justice: An introduction to media engagement for advocates opposing HIV criminalisation.”
Produced by Positive Women’s Network-USA on behalf of HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE, the toolkit helps advocates understand the importance of engagement with media to change narratives around this unjust practice.
It also includes reporting tips for journalists, designed to educate writers and media makers around the nuances of HIV criminalisation, and the harms of inaccurate and stigmatising coverage.
In April, a 90 minute webinar hosted by PWN-USA introduced attendees to some of the concepts and practices highlighted in the toolkit, and featured formidable activists, journalists, communications professionals, and human rights defenders working at the intersection of media and HIV criminalisation.