INTERVENTION IN RESPECT OF COMMITTEE FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF PLHIV, THOSE AT RISK, VULNERABLE TO AND AFFECTED BY HIV
AT THE 51ST ORDINARY SESSION OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS
OBS / 386
I bring you greetings from the Human Rights Development Initiative.
Martin Luther King a renowned American Church leader said "it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he should lift himself up by his own bootstraps. It is even worse to tell a man to lift himself up by his own bootstraps when somebody is standing on the boot."
A retired church leader in Tanzania, affectionately called BABU, claims that God sent him a message in the form of a recipe of herbs and water to cure HIV. He administers a cup to hopeful, desperate people who travel great distances for his cure. Many die on the road waiting in the long queues of people from across the continent.
Honourable Commissioners these people living with HIV and other extremely ill people are now prey to others who also claim to have a cure and call themselves "BABU DOGO" which literally means "little grandpa".
In the face of this death due to fraud and false claims, the government of Tanzania has chosen to build a better road to reach BABU and a cemetery to bury those who die on the road instead of using its powers to charge, prosecute and punish the perpetrators.
Honourable Commissioners, my colleague who works directly with people living with HIV in Tanzania asked me to bring this situation to the attention of the HIV Committee. She is herself engaged with the traditional healers association in Tanzania and is attempting to find a solution to this situation. However in view of the deaths that occur daily and in view of the fact that the government of Tanzania has taken the approach that it does not have the power to interfere with culture and tradition and sees this practice as falling within that category, she has requested me to present her submission to the HIV Committee.
Honourable Chairperson, our African Commission has in the past taken a robust approach with the government of Nigeria in the case of Serac when it clearly stated that governments have a duty to protect their citizens from damaging acts by private parties. We are also delighted to see that the mandate of the HIV Committee includes an article empowering the Committee to engage non-state actors.
Consequently we request the HIV Committee to invoke article b of its mandate to conduct a fact finding mission to investigate this issue and make appropriate recommendations to the government of Tanzania to take steps to protect its citizens from these extremely damaging acts. We further request the HIV Committee to use its powers under article d to engage the government of Tanzania to take immediate remedial action.