The hearing of the Constitutional Petition seeking to repeal section 18 (e), 41 and 43 of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act has kicked off. The hearing kicked off yesterday at the Constitutional Court in Kampala.
Appearing before Justice Christopher Izama Madrama, the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka was given two days to submit a formal reply to the Petition. In tandem, the Petitioner’s Lawyers were given two weeks to respond to the Attorney General’s submissions for the case to be fixed for hearing.
In 2014, parliament of Uganda enacted HIV and Aids Prevention and Control Act, however in 2016, Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) through its lawyers led by Francis Onyango and Mukiibi Paul petitioned Court contenting that section 18 (e) that authorizes a medical practitioner to reveal HIV results to any other person with whom an HIV infected person is in close including sexual partner, infringes on client’s rights to privacy.
They also contend that attempted transmission of HIV under sections 41 and intentional transmission of HIV under section 43 should be repealed and instead resort to use of section 171 of the penal code act.
The continuous existence of such sections have however instilled fear in both women and men and many of them resort not to go for HIV testing because if one goes for HIV testing, he or she would be caught up by the law yet HIV testing is an entry point to accessing other HIV prevention services. Rather than being protective, such provisions of the law are paternalistic posting people (men, women and children) as both victims and vectors of the catastrophic virus.
Speaking about the petition, the head of Legal and Advocacy at UGANET, Immaculate Owomugisha said; “An enabling HIV legal environment, which fosters dignity and access to services without stigma and discrimination, cannot champion HIV Criminalization. It’s time for Uganda to amend its direction.”
“Civil Society Organisation (CSO) HIV law advocates, communities of people living with HIV, and all key populations, women and girls, wait with anticipation Courts interpretation of the law, to establish whether or not it limits rights,” she said.