Press release on the country visit of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Persons Living with HIV / AIDS, Persons at Risk, Vulnerable and Affected by HIV / AIDS (the Committee on HIV / AIDS) of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in the Republic of Namibia

    The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Commission), through its Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS, Persons at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by the HIV / AIDS (the Committee on HIV/AIDS) visited the Republic of Namibia from 24 to 29 April 2017. The delegation consisted of:

    -          Honorable Commissioner Soyata Maiga, Vice-Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and Chairperson of the Committee on HIV/AIDS (head of delegation);

    -          Honorable Commissioner Lucy Asuabgor, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa and member of the Committee on HIV/AIDS;

    -          Professor Ebenezer Durojaye, expert, member of the Committee

    -          Dr Agnes Apea Atim, expert, member of the Committee

    -          Ms Annabel Raw, partner of the Committee

    -          Dr.Aquilnado Mandlate, partner of the Committee;

    The Delegation was assisted by a legal officer from the Secretariat of the African Commission.

    This visit was undertaken in accordance with the mandate of the Committee which stipulates inter alia that it shall: request, receive, analyse and respond to reliable information on the status of the rights of people living with HIV and persons at risk received from States Parties, individuals, community-based organizations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations; conduct fact-finding missions; call on States parties to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of people living with HIV and those at risk.

    During the mission, the Delegation exchanged views with State actors at the highest level, structures, institutions, private bodies, non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies working in the field, to ensure that National response to HIV include a human rights perspective in the elaboration of laws, plans, policies and programs relating to HIV.

    The Delegation met with the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Sports, Youth and National Service, Ministry of Gender Equality and Welfare of the Child; Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Protection and the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Law and Development Reform Commission and the Ombudsman of the Republic.

    The Delegation also paid a courtesy visit to the Deputy Minister of Justice.

    The Delegation had a working session with the national platform on the development and validation of the new National Strategic Framework on the fight against HIV/ AIDS.

    The Delegation met with the representatives of the United Nations system, the Law Society, the Legal Assistance Centre, a referenced NGO for legal assistance and civil society organizations working in the area of Gender, HIV and human rights issues.

    The Delegation noted positive developments characterized by a clear political will and a real commitment to the treatment, management and prevention of HIV in Namibia.

    As part of the progress made, the Delegation noted, among other things, the existence of various programs dedicated to the management of the HIV pandemic, including information and prevention programs, testing, access to ARVs, monitoring and patient’s welfare through nutrition programs. The State's clear commitment to gender issues, the eradication of poverty, identified as causes of high HIV prevalence, as well as measures to address gender based violence, the inclusion of the representative of key populations and vulnerable groups in the elaboration of the new National Strategic Framework.

    The Delegation welcomes the willingness of technical and financial partners and civil society organizations to support the Government's efforts in implementing programs and policies on HIV treatment, management and prevention.

    The Delegation notes, however, the absence of a real legal framework to specifically address the fight  against HIV; in spite of the existence of numerous policies dealing with the subject according to the fields of intervention (labour, public sector, private sector, defence forces); the maintenance of certain laws inherited from the colonial period which limit the full enjoyment of their rights as regards to access to health for key population and other vulnerable groups; the need for reforms to facilitate access to justice for victims of human rights violations, including socio-economic rights violations and the need for disaggregation of data in the fight against HIV.

    A detailed report of the mission will be produced later, but the Delegation is already encouraging the Government of Namibia to:

    -          continue efforts and initiatives aimed at improving the enjoyment and effective protection of human rights in the country, especially those of persons living with HIV; at risk and most vulnerable groups;

    -          accelerate the adoption of the new National Strategic Framework for the fight against HIV in line with regional and international human rights obligations;

    -          to reinforce the achievements, the actions in the fight against HIV, notably through a human rights-based approach, including inclusive participation of all stakeholders in particular keys populations and vulnerable groups at all stages of the implementation of the National Strategic Framework.

    The Delegation expresses its gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Namibia for the facilities made available to it during the visit and for the constructive dialogue with all stakeholders.

    In particular, it expresses its profound gratitude to the Minister of Health and Social Services, which is the mainstay of the organization of the visit, and to its collaborators.

    The mission was closed with a media meeting and a press conference.

    Windhoek, 28 April 2017

    For all additional information,please contact :

    au-banjul@africa-union.org

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      Date: 02 May 2017

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