13 Reasons Why Government of Botswana should provide foreign prisoners with ARVs

08.06.2015-13 Reasons Why Government of Botswana should provide foreign prisoners with ARVs:

  1. 1.“Good prison health is good public health”
  • It is in the public interest that prisoners are provided with adequate medical care, without discrimination.
  • Prisoners are part of our communities: they interact on a daily basis with prison authorities and the majority will at some point be released to their communities.
  • Controlling the HIV epidemic is not possible if HIV and other communicable diseases in prisons are not controlled and treated.
  • As held by the High Court, failing to provide antiretroviral treatment to foreign prisoners exposes citizen prisoners and others with whom they interact with increased risks of transmission of HIV, and increased risks of infection with and transmission of TB and other opportunistic infections.
  1. “Prisoners have a right to adequate medical care without discrimination”
  • I do not know of a single other country where foreign prisoners are discriminated against in the medical care they receive.
  • Prisoners have rights under international, regional, and constitutional law to receive adequate medical treatment because they are under the State’s care: nationality should not be a consideration.
  • Prisoners have no capacity to provide for their own medical needs while in prison which is why laws all over the world recognize that the state has a duty to care for prisoners.
  • It is even harder for foreign prisoners whose families and support systems are not nearby to supplement their needs.
  1. “The High court judgment remains in force”
  • The legal situation is that the government is obliged to provide ARV treatment immediately to all who meet the treatment criteria. This has not changed.
  • The “stay of execution” judgment says explicitly that the 22 August 2014 order by Sechele J, remains in force.
  • Until the 22 August 2014 order is set aside by an appropriate Court, it remains in force and the Government must comply.
  • Failing to comply with the order is unlawful.
  • While BONELA’s urgent application to hold the government in contempt did not succeed, this is only because the Court did not agree that the application was urgent: the government has admitted that it was in contempt of the 22 August 2014 order.

BONELA therefore calls on all foreign prisoners in need of ARV treatment, or think that that they might need treatment or their families and other service providers such as Faith Based Organizations working with prisoners to contact us on +267 3932516 or email bonela@bonela.org.