8.06.2015-BONELA CALLS ON FOREIGN PRISONERS IN NEED OF ARVS TO COME FORWARD
Gaborone - The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) is calling on HIV-positive foreign prisoners in Botswana in need of ARV treatment to make contact with the organisation.
In August 2014, the High Court declared the government’s policy of refusing ARVs to foreign prisoners irrational, unlawful and unconstitutional and ordered the government to immediately provide all foreign prisoners who meet the treatment criteria with ARVs at state expense. The Attorney General appealed the decision and, in the interim, the High Court has refused a stay on the judgment’s execution. This means that the August 2014 order is enforceable until it is overturned by the Court of Appeal, if at all.
“This is not only a matter of life and death,” said Cindy Kelemi, the Executive Director of BONELA, “but it is a matter of the rule of law.”“Government, and all persons involved in the physical care of prisoners and persons in detention in Botswana are obliged by order of Court to provide ARVs to non-citizen prisoners who meet the treatment criteria,” said Kelemi.
BONELA's efforts to engage the Ministry of Health, ministry of defence, justice and security as well as the Prisons department on non-compliance have so far been futile.
“We are therefore calling on prisoners in need or treatment or their families to contact BONELA,” said Kelemi.“Because prisons are a closed environment, it is difficult to determine how many people are falling within this treatment gap. We wish to gather the information of persons in need of care that we can assess whether we are able to assist them legally to access care and to monitor whether the government is complying with the law. We undertake to treat all information given to BONELA with the utmost confidence.”
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