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Martin presents paper on HIV/AIDS

Martin presents paper on HIV/AIDS

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A document entitled – “A Report on a Review of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for Implications of Discrimination and Breach of Human Rights” was presented at a consultation convened at the Methodist Church Building last Thursday.

The audience comprised of media workers and representatives of various secondary and tertiary institutions. The document, researched and compiled by Jaundy O.R. Martin of the law firm Marks, Martin and Associates, was produced as part of the National Assessment on HIV/AIDS, Law, Ethics and Human Rights project.{{more}}

This national assessment “originated from a CARICOM proposal [in which] … Heads of Government recognised the serious implication that HIV/AIDS can have on our nation,” Martin stated. Consequently a priority 1 area was developed and it was recommended that member states pursue a national assessment of the legal, ethical and human rights dimensions of their laws and policies that affect persons living with HIV/AIDS. This initiative by CARICOM, as Martin said, was stimulated by reasons such as “a growing concern for the number of human rights abuses and discriminatory treatment emerging from the advent of HIV/AIDS pandemic and the creation of common standards to which all practitioners can subscribe.”

In his publication Martin explains: “For the purpose of the national assessment the laws of this State will be examined from the perspective of HIV/AIDS to determine whether there are any provisions that directly or indirectly discriminate or afford any person living with HIV/AIDS treatment that is prejudicial to their fundamental or basic human rights”, and additionally, “because of the recent nature of the phenomenon no laws were found to exist within the State that directly address the issue of HIV/AIDS.” According to Martin, “HIV/AIDS is only caught within the fold of certain laws by way of implication.”

Martin’s report has identified a number of laws and provisions that may affect persons living with HIV/AIDS. It states:

“One may regard general areas such as employment, health, education, privacy and family life as very important areas that touch the lives of every citizen yet they were not considered to be fundamental enough by the farmers of the constitution to warrant constitutional protection.”

Today persons living with HIV/AIDS are often discriminated against at work, in public and private institutions and in many areas of their daily lives. The national assessment would consider whether such persons ought to receive protection in these areas. Among the laws to be revisited are the deportation and restriction of Commonwealth Citizen’s Act – CAP 76, the Medical Officer Act – CAP 226 and the Public Service Assistance Act – CAP 231.

Martin in his delivery acknowledged the presence of the many students and stated that it was “fitting that the national assessment commences with the youthful sector … [because] our society in the final analysis rests on the shoulder of our youth.”

The theme of the consultation was: “To Strengthen Capacity, to Reduce the Spread and Impact of HIV/AIDS through enhanced advocacy, policy development and legislation.”

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