25 March 2004
Botswana Delegation that traveled to PATAM

At a recent Pan African Treatment Access Movement (PATAM) Meeting that took place from the March 3rd to 5th in Harare, participants agreed on strategies for the rapid scaling up of access to anti-retroviral treatment in Southern Africa.

The meeting combined treatment and human rights activists, physicians and People Living with HIV from the SADC region, including a delegation of six representatives from Botswana who traveled under the auspices of the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA). While the public ARV programme is well underway in Botswana the general public, including many People Living with HIV, remain ignorant with regards to the details of the life prolonging medication prescribed as part of the programme.

The Botswana delegation therefore commits itself to initiate a treatment literacy campaign to increase knowledge of HIV treatment in cooperation with relevant institutions and organisations. At the same time it is crucial to support and further develop the existing regulatory framework and capacity in order to access safe anti-retroviral drugs at the lowest possible price.

BONELA and her partners therefore welcome the up-coming meeting on fixed-dose combination drug products that is co-hosted by the World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, SADC, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services which will take place on 29th and 30th of March 2004 in Gaborone.

The discussion of fixed-dose combination drugs as an integral part of ARV therapy in Southern Africa is timely as these drugs allow for simplified AIDS treatment at low cost to the public health system. We support such therapy strategies as part of realizing the World Health Organisation’s goal of 3 million people on ARV treatment by 2005.

For any clarifications contact:
Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA)
Tel: 393 2516
Fax: 393 2517
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

25 February 2004
Strategic Plan of Ethics, Law and Human Rights Sector to be addressed

On February 26th senior government officials, Members of Parliament, legal professionals and             representatives of civil society will meet to discuss a human rights approach to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

This group will be joined by the Honourable Warren Allmand, an esteemed Canadian academic who served his country as a Member of Parliament for more than 30 years. Mr. Allmand has been active on human rights issues throughout his career and was the President of the Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development from 1997 to 2002.

The meeting will address the Strategic Plan of the Ethics, Law and Human Rights Sector of the National AIDS Council (NAC) and will include stakeholders as well as Sector members. The meeting aims to bring together involved parties to examine and implement a legal, ethical and human rights approach to HIV/AIDS.  It will take place from 8 am to 5pm at the Hotel Crystal Palace.

In Botswana people infected by and affected by HIV continue to experience discrimination in a number of areas of life including employment, housing, and education. The Ethics, Law and Human Rights Sector aims to be the leading advocate for the effective integration of ethical, legal and human rights issues into all sector reponses to HIV/AIDS in an endeavour to create an enabling environment that conforms to international standards.

For any clarifications contact:
Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA)
Tel: 393 2516
Fax: 393 2517
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

09 June 2003
Routine or Compulsory Testing?


The Botswana Lawyers Taskforce on HIV/AIDS will hold a discussion on “Routine or Compulsory Testing?” in Gaborone.  Participants from NGOs, CBOs, private sector, legal practitioners, academicians, administration of justice (Attorney General’s Chambers, Magistrates etc.) NACA, Ministry of Health and the media (press, radio and TV) are expected to attend.

The seminar responds to the growing concern of many stakeholders about recent discussions concerning routine or compulsory testing.  The Taskforce believes that the debate has not covered the issue from all angles- that is, from a legal, ethical and human rights perspective. The adoption of compulsory testing is a direct violation of the right to consent and the right to dignity afforded to individuals by various international human rights instruments, as well as by the Botswana constitution. It also undermines a person’s right to security and contravenes any notion of privacy. Such considerations, need to be brought to the fore. Hence, the discussion this weekend. Together with relevant stakeholders, the Taskforce hopes to stimulate critical debate which will take on board  multi-dimensional perspectives and inform subsequent policy decision making.

The Botswana Lawyers Taskforce on HIV/AIDS welcomes intrested members of the public  to attend a the seminar on 13th September 2003 at the Maharaja Conference Centre. This, however, is a pre-registered seminar.  Interested parties are required to register prior to 13th September 2003. To register, please contact the BONELA secratariat at tel: 393 2516.

The Botswana Lawyers Taskforce Steering Committee:

Duma Boko - Boko, Motlhala & Company
Dick Bayford - Bayford & Associates
Sanji Monageng - Law Society of Botswana
Herbert Sikhakhane - Sikhakhane & Company
Maame Awuah - Awuah, Khan & Partners
Christine Stegling - The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS
Beaulah Mguni - Attorney General's Chambers
Botsalano Motlhabane - Attoney General’s Chambers
Lindy Muzila - Attoney General’s Chambers

10 February 2004
Legislation to Prohibit Pre-Employment HIV Testing is Needed

“Botswana urgently needs legislation to prohibit employers from testing prospective employees for HIV” the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) said today. The organisation noted that although the National Policy on HIV/AIDS states that pre-employment HIV testing is unecessary and should not be conducted, this policy is neither binding on employers nor legally enforceable.

The need for legislation in this area was highlighted by a case which came before the Court of Appeal last week (I.C. Case No. 35, 2003, Civil Appeal No. 37, 2003).  An HIV-positive man was offered employment as a security guard with the Botswana Building Society (BBS). He passed his pre-employment medical examination. Nineteen days later the employee was informed he was further required to undergo an HIV test.  He tested positive and received his test results from BBS enclosed with a letter of termination.

While the Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal disagreed on whether the HIV test formed part of the pre-employment medical examination, judges in both courts noted the problematic lack of legislation in this area. The Court of Appeal commented that the National Policy has “never been translated into law and [has] no statutory authority.” Judge Legwaila, Judge President of the Industrial Court noted that in this case:

“The Applicant lost his employment because of an indiscriminate policy of the employer who took advantage of the absence of restraining legislative instruments. It was not that at that point in time the Applicant was found to be incapacitated but simply because he was HIV positive. This is not the type of prejudice that can be left to the courts to tackle.”

BONELA supports Judge Legwaila's plea for legislation to prohibit pre-employment HIV testing and HIV-based discrimination in the workplace. The organisation has worked with unions, NGOs, government departments and representatives of the private sector to draft a policy framework on HIV/AIDS and employment identifying key principles to be included in future legislation. BONELA also continues to work with key stakeholders towards the development and implementation of legislation protecting the rights of people living with HIV in the workplace.

For any clarifications contact:
Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA)
Tel: 393 2516
Fax: 393 2517

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

02 June 2003
Lawyers’ Taskforce


Botswana has mobilized all sectors in the fight against the HIV pandemic. The campaign entails an acknowledgement of the ever present risk of infection, thus intensifying the spread of the pandemic.

This campaign also laid bare the myriad of legal and ethical issues that must be dealt with. The huge number of infected and affected persons points to the reality of AIDS related deaths and ailments. The treatment of those determined to be suffering from AIDS related illnesses must concern all of us.

The severity of the pandemic has made society, in the absence of a cure, look to the law as an instrument for achieving the much needed behavioural change. The result has been calls for, and even attempts at, the promulgation of HIV specific legislation.

The legislative response to the pandemic needs to be informed by a profound respect for the human rights of those infected and/or affected. It must involve sensitivity to and appreciation of the following critical principles:

  • The principle of autonomy.
  • The principle of confidentiality.
  • The right to health care.
  • The principle of non-discrimination.

It is these principles that must be our guideposts as we fashion whatever legislative response or intervention. Acknowledging the importance of a legal response to the pandemic, the National AIDS Council recently established a specific sector addressing ethics, law and human rights.

Against this background a seminar was held, entitled Justice, Reason and Hope within the HIV Epidemic in Botswana, which meeting brought together lawyers, judges and legal professionals of Botswana in October 2002. During the seminar, the inactivity of the legal profession in  the fight against HIV in Botswana was acknowledged and a resolution taken that the profession would henceforth take up its responsibilities.

As a result of the seminar and under the auspices of the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA), the Lawyers Taskforce was established. Its aim is to ensure the visible involvement of legal practitioners and professionals in the fight against the pandemic. This it sets out to achieve through addressing practical, ethical and legal problems that beset the campaign against the spread of HIV.

  • To this end the Lawyers Taskforce notes with concern the extreme overcrowding in Botswana's prisons. The conditions in these facilities are unsanitary, unhygienic and provide a fertile environment for the spread of communicable diseases. The Lawyers Taskforce declares unequivocally, that conditions in our prisons are inhuman and degrading. These conditions hamper and frustrate efforts curbing the spread of HIV. The adherence, legally and culturally, to the viewpoint that certain sexual practices are unnatural and therefore taboo further fuels the epidemic.
  • The Lawyers Taskforce notes further and with grave concern, that the recent attempts at HIV-specific legislation have violated the precepts that should underpin such a process. The result has been the recent amendments to the penal code to provide for enhanced punishment for rape convicts who were determined to be HIV positive. The effect of the amendments has been to encourage the stigma and social discrimination associated with an HIV positive status.
  • Thus, it is the intention of the Lawyers Taskforce to facilitate positive legislative interventions. It will also challenge any discriminatory practices and proclivities. It will, as and when it becomes necessary, mount constitutional challenges to any unacceptable practices.
  • In the fullness of time the Lawyers Taskforce hopes to guide and direct the fight against HIV in a responsive, sensitive and humane direction in line with the enunciated vision of a humane, just and caring society by the year 2016.

The Botswana Lawyers Taskforce on HIV/AIDS invites members of the press and interested members of the public to attend a press conference on Monday 9th June 2003 at the President Hotel at 4 PM.

The Botswana Lawyers Taskforce Steering Committee:

Duma Boko - Boko, Motlhala & Company
Dick Bayford - Bayford & Associates
Sanji Monageng - the Law Society of Botswana
Herbert Sikhakhane - Sikhakhane &Company
Maame Awuah - Awuah, Khan &Partners
Christine Stegling - the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS
Beaulah Mguni - Attorney General's Chambers
Botsalano Motlhabane and Lerato Molefe

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