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22 AUGUST 2014

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 BOTSWANA GOVERNMENT MUST PROVIDE HIV TREATMENT TO FOREIGN PRISONERS SAYS HIGH COURT

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Gaborone–On Friday 22 August 2014, the Botswana High Court ordered the government to provide anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment to HIV-positive, foreign prisoners at state expense. The Court held that the denial of ARV treatment to foreign prisoners violates their constitutional rights.

“This court decision has affirmed that the government is legally obligated to immediately provide life-saving ARV treatment to foreign prisoners living with HIV. The court further affirmed that providing ARV treatment to all prisoners who need it is critical to effectively address HIV” says Cindy Kelemi of the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS, one of the applicants in the case.

 In reaching its decision, the court highlighted the importance of ensuring that all prisoners had access to ARV to protect other prisoners from acquiring HIV and other opportunistic infections, such as tuberculosis. The court held that the denial of ARV treatment was unjustifiable under the Botswana law.

 “This landmark decision not only makes clear Botswana’s legal obligations with respect to providing access to treatment, but also highlights the important public health reasons for providing prisoners with ARV treatment regardless of their citizenship. These include preventing HIV transmission in prisons and ensuring other prisoners are not more susceptible to opportunistic infections” says Priti Patel of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), which provided assistance with the case.

 The court had previously ordered the government to provide foreign prisoners with ARV treatment as the government had failed to file opposing pleadings in the matter. This order was rescinded upon agreement of both parties.

 

The applicants were represented by Advocate Gilbert Marcus SC, Advocate Isabel Goodman and Tshiamo Rantao.

 

For more information:

Cindy Kelemi, Director, BONELA: +267 393 2516 (o); +267 72 385 054 (m); This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Priti Patel, Deputy Director, SALC: +27 (0)10 596 8538 (o); +27 76 808 0505 (m); This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Annabel Raw, HIV/AIDS Project Lawyer, SALC: +27 (0)10 596 8538 (o); +27 83 784 8496 (m); This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 

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