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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Release on the Visit of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and Those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire


At the request of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), a country visit was undertaken to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire from 23 to 28 May 2016 by the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and Those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV (the HIV/AIDS Committee) of the African Commission. The mission was part of the promotion mandate of the Commission under Article 45 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter). The objectives of the mission were, among others, to inquire from the authorities, civil society organisations and other government stakeholders about the situation of the protection of the rights of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, and identify the progress made and the obstacles and challenges faced while addressing human rights in the country’s response to HIV.

The delegation of the African Commission was led by Honourable Commissioner Soyata Maiga, Vice-Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Chairperson of the HIV/AIDS Committee, and was composed of Honourable Commissioner Reine Alapini Gansou, Member of the HIV/AIDS Committee and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Mr Patrick Michael Eba, Expert Member of the HIV/AIDS Committee and UNAIDS Senior Human Rights and Legislation Adviser. The delegation was assisted by Mr Hubert Gouleyo, Senior Legal Officer at the Secretariat of the African Commission.

The delegation held fruitful discussions with the key ministerial officials dealing with HIV and human rights issues, in particular officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Human Rights and Public Freedoms, Ministry of Public Health and Hygiene, Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Women Empowerment, the Family and Child Protection, Ministry of Employment and Social Protection, Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Employment and Civic Service, and Ministry of National Education.

The delegation held a working session with H.E. the First Lady of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Mrs Dominique Ouattara, in her capacity as UNAIDS Special Advocate for Accelerated Access to Paediatric Treatment for Children Living with HIV.

The delegation also met with parliamentarians, members of the Committee on General and Institutional Affairs and members of the Committee on Social and Cultural Affairs. The delegation held working sessions with the National Human Rights Commission, UN agencies and stakeholders responsible for implementing HIV programmes. 

The delegation met with civil society organisations, including people living with HIV such as women, young people, men who have sex with men and sex workers. The delegation met with the media during a press conference that was held in the conference hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The delegation visited HIV medical and psychosocial management centres, orphans and children made vulnerable by AIDS and a specialised HIV prevention and management centre for sex workers, men having sex with men and drug users. 

During the various meetings and working sessions held with the relevant government, non-governmental and other actors dealing with HIV and human rights issues, the delegation discussed about the general situation of the HIV epidemic in Côte d’Ivoire, in particular the prevalence, impact of the epidemic on the general population and among specific groups such as women, the youth and other vulnerable groups including prisoners, sex workers, men who have sex with men and drug users.

Discussions were also held on a review of HIV response in the area of programmes, legislation and human rights. In particular, the delegation discussed with stakeholders about service coverage and quality, legislative and legal environment of HIV response, existence, coverage and composition of programmes and interventions relating to human rights in HIV response, and sufficient funds for the implementation of human rights programmes in HIV response.  

The delegation notes with satisfaction the political commitment of the Government to HIV response, and welcomes the measures taken by the Government to improve and strengthen health services, including the rehabilitation and construction of health centres across the country and the recruitment of additional health personnel. 

The delegation welcomes the enactment of Law No. 2014-430 on HIV/AIDS prevention, protection and control.

The delegation welcomes the relevant initiatives, interventions and programmes developed by civil society stakeholders and other partners which integrate a human rights-based approach in HIV response, including those for people living with HIV and other affected and high-risk groups such as orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV, women, young people, sex workers, men who have sex with men and drug users, while dealing with the challenges related to the mobilisation of the financial, material and technical resources necessary for the success and sustainability of programmes.

The delegation however notes the many challenges in the fight against HIV and which affect key human rights issues. The challenges include the high HIV prevalence rate among high-risk groups and HIV-related stigma, self-stigma and discrimination.

Other challenges include the ineffectiveness of Law No. 2014-430 on HIV and AIDS, limited coordination among the various ministries regarding their roles and responsibilities in promoting human rights as part of HIV response, limited quality and coverage of human rights programmes and interventions in national HIV response, heavy dependence on external grants for national HIV response, and inadequate financial, technical and material resources available to civil society organisations working in the identified areas.

The African Commission will present a detailed report on the conduct of the mission and the various meetings held, including recommendations to the stakeholders met.

The delegation expresses its appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire for authorising the mission which was undertaken ahead of the UN High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS planned for 8 to 10 June 2016 in New York and aimed at setting a framework of global action to combat the epidemic for the next five years, including the fight against stigmatisation, discrimination and HIV-related human rights violations.

The delegation expresses its gratitude to the Minister of Human Rights and Public Freedoms and her team for their support towards the organisation and smooth conduct of the mission.

The delegation welcomes the restoration in January 2016 of the Ministry of Human Rights and Public Freedoms, an important decision which puts human rights issues and approaches on the agenda of the Government’s priority areas.

The delegation encourages the Government of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire to strengthen its commitment, programmes, plans and policies in the promotion and protection of human rights in HIV response.

The delegation calls on the Government to take the necessary measures without delay towards the effective implementation of the 2014 Law on HIV and AIDS, including through decrees and other implementation measures.

The delegation urges the Government to strengthen its common and coordinated action towards effectively addressing HIV-related human rights issues in all the ministries taking into account their respective mandates and responsibilities.

The delegation calls on the Ministry of Public Health and Hygiene, in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Rights and Public Freedoms, to identify a strategic and programme approach towards addressing human rights in HIV response and to work with other relevant ministries and stakeholders, including parliamentarians, the National Human Rights Commission, civil society, people living with HIV and vulnerable groups, the media and religious leaders.

The delegation calls on civil society organisations to continue their efforts to promote human rights in HIV response.

The delegation further calls on development partners to support the efforts of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire in its response to HIV, in particular in the area of human rights.

Abidjan, 28 May 2016