Did you know that we have an HIV tribunal in Kenya? The government established the first ever tribunal of its kind in the world in 2006 when the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act 2006 was enacted by parliament. However it was not until December 2009 that the members of the tribunal were appointed by the Attorney General.The tribunal was established to handle legal issues relating to HIV. This includes discrimination against people living with HIV and protecting the confidentiality of medical records. Since its establishment in January 2012, the tribunal has received 400 complaints, admitted 14 cases and delivered two judgments since.
COMMITTEE SWORN IN BY CJ WILLY MUTUNGA
Recently, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga opened the HIV and Aids Tribunal at the Supreme Court where a six member committee who were sworn in by the CJ will sit for a period of three years. The new tribunal is under the office of the Attorney General and bears the status of a subordinate court.
The members of the tribunal are Jotham Arua(chairman), Mercy Mwarah, Mohammed Noor Kullow, Prof Julius Muasya Kyambi, Angelina Siparo and Joe Muriuki.
The HIV tribunal will not only hear disputes from people infected with HIV and Aids but also those affected by the disease.
The first ever institution set to offer professional training on HIV/Aids programme management in the country was also launched.
ENSURING FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
“The tribunal will ensure that the fundamental rights of people living with HIV and Aids are protected. These include access to medical health care, drugs and information”, Jotham Arua said at the opening.
“What we intend to do is not only to deal with reported cases, we want to develop the law in the area of HIV/Aids so that the public health environment is more friendly to the protection of rights of people living with the disease”, he continued.
People living with HIV are faced by a myriad of challenges and some of them require a legal framework in order for their rights to be upheld. Discrimination has been cited as the biggest challenge faced by victims of HIV/Aids with some even losing their jobs because of their HIV status.
KENYA STEPS UP FIGHTAGAINST HIV
Kenya is said to be among the countries with the highest numbers of people living with HIV and Aids. An estimated 1.6 million people are living with HIV while about 1.1 million children are believed to have been orphaned by AIDS.
The country has however been increasing efforts to tackle the scourge to the extent that Kenya was applauded for being among six African countries that have recorded a distinctive drop in new HIV infections in children, in a report by the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in November last year. The number of children newly infected with HIV is reported to have decreased by 40 per cent in the last two years
Setting up the tribunal is a step in the direct direction to ensure that rights of people living with HIV are respected just like any other person in the society.