By: Ronald Colbert, Independent Journalist
(Adapted by Jan Voordouw, Panos Institute)
“We must protect public health as well as human rights,” stated lawyer Margaret Dessources Brierre during the national forum on solidarity with people living with HIV/AIDS (PWAs), which took place from 21-23 April 1999 in Petionville, Haiti. Highlighting weaknesses in Haitian legislation in terms of protecting the human rights of infected people, she labeled HIV as a paradox.
“Discrimination, which deprives individuals of certain rights because of their state of health, is not foreseen nor suppressed by the Haitian penal code. During an epidemic, when the spread of disease must be restricted, the non-respect of fundamental personal rights must be checked in order to protect the dignity of infected people,” she remarked. She also referred to a set of international guidelines established with a view to guarantee the protection of the human rights of infected people.
In view of the extent of the epidemic and the existing legal gap concerning the protection of human rights for PWAs, lawyer Margaret Dessources Brierre recommended a huge information campaign to halt the spread of the disease.
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