Civil society organisations (CSOs) who protested against inclusion of anti-human rights provisions in the HIV and Aids (Prevention and Management) Bill have celebrated Parliament’s removal of provisions deemed contentious.
Apparently, some of the CSOs had threatened to challenge the constitutionality of the Bill if Parliament passed it without amendments.
But when the House deliberated the Bill yesterday, several amendments were introduced. They included deleting of Article 43 which stated that wilful transmission of HIV would be a criminal offence.
The CSOs felt that the Bill had adopted a criminal law and coercive approach to HIV, a development that violated human rights and would have a harmful impact on Malawi’s national response to HIV and Aids.
Several human rights organisations, including Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (Chreaa), aWomen Lawyers Association of Malawi (WLA) and Coalition of Women Living with HIV and Aids (Cowlha), had condemned the painting of women as carriers of the virus that causes Aids.
Speaking in an interview after the Bill passed yesterday, Cedep executive director Gift Trapence said he was now expecting the President to assent to the Bill.
He said: “It will do a lot of wonders to the HIV response in this country.”
WLA president Sarai Chisala-Tempelhof expressed her joy at the removal of the problematic provisions.
“I am overwhelmed by the removal of all the problematic provisions that removed human rights protections and enhanced stigma against people living with HIV and Aids,” she said.
On his part, Chreaa executive director Victor Chagunyuka Mhango said: “It is people who are most marginalised in our society who would suffer most under coercive and criminalising laws. These are people who need society’s support, not punishment.”