Bonela To Raise Awareness on ICESCR; Human Rights and HIV/AIDS at Old Naledi Kgotla

1 June 2011:
Bonela To Raise Awareness on ICESCR; Human Rights and HIV/AIDS at Old Naledi Kgotla

The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) will hold a community dialogue on Monday 6 June 2011 at 1400hrs at the Main Kgotla in Old Naledi to raise awareness of the community on human rights and HIV/AIDS.

The dialogue themed From Privileges to Rights will be hosted by Kgosi C. Kooitswe of Old Naledi. Through this initiative, BONELA seeks to raise awareness on the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and mobilize the community in Old Naledi to lobby their parliamentary and council representatives to support the motion presented in parliament this year by Honourable Gilson Saleshando (Selibe Phikwe West Member of Parliament) for Botswana to sign, ratify and domestic this Convention.

This is in recognition of the fact that the Constitution of Botswana neither contains nor guarantees second generation rights, which are rights that have financial implications such as the right to health; the right to work and the right to education. Domestication of the ICESCR will thus commit the Government of Botswana to uphold these rights.

BONELA is concerned that the Government of Botswana may not be held accountable where the right to health is not guaranteed in cases such as poor health facility standards and unethical conduct of professionals, especially stigma and discrimination targeted at sexual minorities such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexed (LGBTI)individuals  as well as sex workers. 

BONELA makes particular reference to Article 12 of the ICESCR, which guarantees the “right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health”. It also calls for the “… improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene; the prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational, and other diseases; and the creation of conditions which could assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.”

By signing, ratifying and domesticating the ICESCR, Botswana will thus be accountable to the provision of the highest attainable standard of health, especially with regard to antiretroviral (ARV) and tuberculosis (TB) prevention and treatment, especially with regards to most at risk populations (MARPS) such as people living with disabilities; LGBTI; men who have sex with men; sex workers; refugees and foreign prisoners, who historically have been left out of HIV and AIDS policies and interventions.

It is BONELA’s contention that without the inclusion of MARPS, it is impossible to achieve universal access, which is the key to the country attaining its 2016 goal of zero new infections by that year.

The signing, ratification and domestication of the ICESCR by Botswana is a campaign that BONELA will carry out throughout the year. In the build up to this campaign, BONELA will also hold two kgotla meetings in Selibe Pikwe East and West, as well as one public event in Gaborone this year.