2012 HIV/AIDS JusticeMakers Fellows
Gatavu Audace – Burundi
Legal representation for HIV/AIDS-infected prisoners
“Detained people are generally heads of the family and are the most active in generating family income. Their detention worsens an untenable situation caused by HIV/AIDS negative impact on families’ savings. Families slide into poverty and the accused in detention is left behind”
Gatavu Audace, a human rights defense attorney in Bujumbura, Burundi, has eyewitness experience with the plight of people living with HIV/AIDS in Burundi’s criminal justice system. In his work as a legal assistant for the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, he saw people living with HIV/AIDS abandoned by their families and friends and without any access to counsel because neither their families nor the government were willing or able to pay for attorneys.
These experiences moved Mr. Gatuvu to use his legal skills and connections within the legal community to create a network of pro bono defense attorneys to provide legal counsel to the most vulnerable within the criminal justice system who are without any legal defense. This project will consist of training workshops for volunteer lawyers, visits to prisons and courts to research potential clients’ cases, legal consultations, and courtroom defense of people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system. This will prevent a very vulnerable community from facing wrongful imprisonment, discriminating and mass violation of their rights.
Dennis Kipruto Mungo – Kenya
Sensilitization of prison staff to HIV/AIDS-infected mothers and children
“My commitment is ensuring that justice prevails to the most vulnerable and to ensure that all of them know their rights”.
A provincial ITC and Human Rights Officer in Nairobi (Kenya), 2012 JusticeMakers Fellow Dennis Kipruto Mungo has been involved in capacity building of prison officers and other members of the legal community on human rights relating to HIV/AIDS for inmates for a long time. After being exposed to the poor conditions of children living in Kenyan prisons while working in those prisons, Mr. Mungo decided to change the inhumane situation in which the incarcerated children who live with HIV/AIDS. They are being raised by incarcerated mothers in prisons facilities that are rarely targeted in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts, even though they are the most vulnerable.
Currently there are no programs that ensure that HIV/AIDS infected imprisoned children are given access to the care that ensures they live in a healthy and dignified environment. According to Mr. Mungo, one of the major reasons is that the staff in the various departments who handle the imprisoned mothers with children, starting from the police to the prison officers and the judiciary altogether have not been properly trained and sensitized to the needs of HIV/AIDS infected prisoners and their children.
Taking this into account, his project will focus on alleviating this problem by launching a common training program between Prison Warders and personnel in the judiciary and police departments at the Langata Women Prison. The training will provide strategic information that will educate the respective staff as duty-bearers to fulfill their obligations with regards to human rights and proper care of children and women prisoners living with HIV/AIDS. With this, the project seeks to ensure that prisoners are not segregated but their living quarters are sanitary and they have adequate clothes and beddings.
Thaddeus Nwabueze – Nigeria
Prevention of rights violations of the accused living with HIV/AIDS
“[My project] seeks to address the root causes of the violation of the rights of accused PLWHA. In Nigeria the common response by human rights defenders working to address the issue of violation of the rights of PLWHA within the context of the criminal justice system is to seek relief for PLWHA after their rights are violated, thus showing a reactionary approach to the issue of protection of the rights of PLWHA”
Thaddeus Nwabueze, an attorney and civil rights activist in Lagos, Nigeria, has seen first –hand the unconstitutional discrimination that people living with HIV/AIDS face in Nigeria’s criminal justice system. In his more than 10 years of experience in Nigeria’s criminal justice system, he has seen the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS be systematically denied through the exclusion of this vulnerable group from the general prison population and from such vital justice institutions as the courtroom.
In order to prevent future violations of this type, Mr. Nwabueze will be conducting fact-finding missions in Nigeria’s largest prisons and publishing stories of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in these prisons. These stories will also be used as the basis for the training roundtables that he will be organizing with police officials, prison officials, and judicial officials to train them on the proper and legal ways to treat people living with HIV/AIDS within prisons. He will also continue to provide direct pro bono criminal defense for accused people living with HIV/AIDS. This will ensure that justice sector officials have the tools and knowledge to properly implement anti-discrimination policies and will therefore allow people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system to live free of discrimination.
Charles M. Mupenda – Demoractic Republic of Congo
Improving legal instruments catered to prisoners living with HIV/AIDS
“Because of my work in rural areas in South-Kivu, I visited many places of detention. I have seen firsthand the accused living with HIV/AIDS. These people are victims of numerous kinds of discrimination, among others denial of access to medical care and free judicial assistance”.
Charles M. Mupenda (DRC) has recently finished his masters degree in Theory and Practice of Human Rights at the Catholic University of Lyon, France. He fulfilled an internship position at the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, until recently, and has experience as a lawyer in his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is eager to take the knowledge and skills obtained during his studies, along with the $5000 JusticeMakers fellowship, and return to his country to begin implementing his project.
Charles’s project aims to defend detainees who live with HIV/AIDS and who are imprisoned at the Kavumu prison. A prison is located in a remote area. One of the problems that Charles identifies is lawyers’ limited access to this area, as they typically live in urban areas and poorly-constructed roads are an obstacle rather than a means when trying to access those remote locations.
An aspect of his project that Charles is particularly enthusiastic about, is his approach to financial sustainability. With his secured fellowship, he will start a commercial taxi service. The taxi will ensure that funds are raised throughout, and even after the project term ends. In addition, the taxi will allow different stakeholders to travel between the prison and the urban areas.
Larissa Solovyeva – Russia
Enhancement of free legal protection for the imprisoned living with HIV/AIDS
“I live in a country where a lot should be changed, and I hope I can still do more. Helping people living with HIV to protect their rights, to inspire them with strength and confidence to see the changes that will inevitably occur in our country”
Larissa Solovyeva (Russia) knows first-hand the numerous problems that people living with HIV/AIDS have to face in Russian prisons. She is herself a person living with HIV, and has repeatedly been convicted because of crimes related to drugs. Due to the lack of availability of free legal assistance from the state and the lack of financial resources in her family, she had to defend her right to receive a proper treatment and medication by reading law books.
A year after she got released from jail, she began to work as a case manager in the public organization KRDMOO “EULA”, dedicated to educating and training people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) as well as advocating and protecting their rights. Due to the large amount of requests for such help, Ms. Solovyeva decided to make a change and applied for a JusticeMakers Fellowship.
Her project aims to increase the availability and quality of free legal protection of PLWHA in the prisons of the Kaliningrad region, enforcing it through the involvement of the public representatives. Toward that end, she will conduct legal seminars for PLWHA and drug users, create and distribute leaflets on the rights of PLWHA among lawyers and prison officials, and offer legal support to them through the introduction of a public representative who will act under a power of attorney on behalf of a person living with HIV/AIDS in places of isolation. All the work will be carried out under the direction of human rights defenders and lawyers, who will provide support on a voluntary basis by attending complaints and representing particular cases in the courts.
Dmytro Tupchiienko – Ukraine
Gathering criminal justice system skateholders about HIV/AIDS-related issues
“According to a 2009 survey, the rate of HIV infection [in Ukrainian prisons] was 15%”
Dmytro Tupchiienko, an attorney and development professional in Kiev, Ukraine, has been working to improve the rule of law in Ukraine for over 10 years. Working with organizations such as EuropeAid and the United Nations Development Project, he has advised the Ukrainian government and other agencies on the legal aspects of development. In doing so, he discovered inconsistencies in both the implementation of laws governing criminal justice officials and in the laws themselves. In particular, he saw a disconnect between the laws as they are written and their implementation when the laws related to the treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system.
In order to eliminate this disconnect and improve the conditions for people living with HIV/AIDS in the criminal justice system, he will conduct a thorough study of the laws as they currently exist, propose and lobby for any changes that need to be made, and then conduct trainings with justice sector professionals on the law and its proper implementation. This will standardize and improve the treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS within a Ukrainian criminal justice system that can often be capricious at best.
Garima Tiwari – India
Educating lawyers about supreme court’s guidelines on HIV/AIDS
“Justice comes from two words-“Jus” and “Stice”. “Jus” means eternal values and “stice” means standing still. Therefore, justice is eternal values that stand still and in my opinion the project aims to project, promote, and protect one such value-compassion.”
Garima Tiwari, a lawyer in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, saw first-hand the ignorance of justice sector officials about the rights and needs of people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system during her research as a law student at the National Law Institute University. Conservative prison and police officials were unwilling and unable to discuss HIV/AIDS due to the taboo nature of the subject. This leaves people living with HIV/AIDS without their medical and legal necessities.
Upon graduating from law school, Ms. Tiwari decided to dedicate part of her career to increasing awareness of the rights and needs of people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system of Bhopal, India. To this end, she will be organizing training with lawyers, prison officials, and police officials on the needs of this vulnerable group. These trainings will draw on the resources of law students and Ms. Tiwari’s connections within the legal community to improve the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS in a criminal justice system that currently ignores their needs out of fear of taboo.
Garima has partnered with Grayscale, a pan-Indian association of law students, on many projects. Grayscale provide pro-bono assistance with both legal and non-legal research, proof reading, field work, documentation and case summaries. They recently helped Garima prepare a write-up for her survey on HIV awareness in her area.
Henry Nwaka – Nigeria
Elaboration of a bill defending legal rights of prisoners living with HIV/AIDS
“PLWHA are stigmatized on arrest, detained in separate custodial facilities by prison officials, denied access
to legal counsel and even denied access to the courtrooms by judges.”
As a criminal defense attorney in Asaba, Nigeria, Henry Nwaka has seen the abuses and rights violations constantly suffered by people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system of Nigeria.
People living with HIV/AIDS are given entirely different treatment from other detainees and accused persons in Nigeria’s criminal justice system. They are even sometimes denied the basic right to be present in court and face their accusers.
For this reason, Mr. Nwaka has decided that a comprehensive legal framework on the treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system and on punishment for justice system officials who abuse people living with HIV/AIDS is necessary to prevent future abuse. He will work for the passage and implementation of a law laying out this legal framework through lobbying efforts and the organization of a public hearing with key stakeholders. The passage of this law will provide all key stakeholders with the knowledge they need to properly treat PLWHA within the criminal justice system and will give them options for redress if their rights continue to be violated.
Tatyana Kochetkova – Russia
Providing legal counsel for the accused living with HIV/AIDS
“Law enforcement officers are surprised by the ability of people to resist their system, when they have the courage to challenge and openly confront the ubiquitous practice of fabrication of criminal cases in relation to vulnerable groups.”
A social worker from the city of Tolyatti in southeastern Russia, Tatyana Kochetkova has been working with intravenous drug users and people living with HIV/AIDS for over 15 years. She has seen first-hand the negative impact of a capricious legal system on the most vulnerable in society as many of her friends and colleagues who are living with HIV/AIDS have been arrested and not given access to legal counsel.
For this reason, she has decided to devote her social work to the provision of adequate legal counsel to people living with HIV/AIDS upon arrest. She and her organization (the AIDS Service Organization) will be visiting detainees immediately upon arrest with anti-retroviral drugs, working with partners to find them adequate pro bono legal counsel, accompanying the detainee through the process until adequate legal counsel can be assigned, and liaising with press and government officials if need be. The project will both provide legal counsel to people living with HIV/AIDS and provide the community with the ability to fight back against a criminal justice system that is often not on their side.
Daniel Serrano de Rejil – Mexico
Sensitizing prison staff to juveniles living with HIV/AIDS
“I like to work with juveniles in conflict with law. A confident atmosphere has been created
between us. They have many doubts and necessities”.
Daniel Serrano de Rejil has a long experience in leading the promotion of sexual health and young people’s sexual rights in Mexico and all over the world. As a member of the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, he has worked closely and actively with youth to promote different initiatives created and developed by young people on HIV/AIDS and issues relating to the LGTB community.
In the beginning of 2012, Mr. Serrano started working with young people deprived of their freedom in juveniledetention centers in Mexico City through workshops with the aim of raising their awareness in the legal context of non-discrimination based on sexuality. During this training, Daniel realized that the operative staff of these communities refuses to accept the existence of any sexual relations between young boys infected with HIV/AIDS. With this serious problem, the number of boys who could have become infected with HIV is unknown, so that Mr. Serrano decided to change this situation and look for financial support to put his ideas into practice.
His JusticeMakers’ project seeks to implement an awareness raising program aimed at 80 members of the operative staff of five juvenile detention centers in Mexico that work with underage boys in conflict with the law with the aim of showing them the importance of non-discrimination, detection and attention of HIV/AIDS in this population. With the collaboration of DGPTA (Dirección General de Tratamiento para Adolescentes) and Condesa Clinics, young people living with HIV/AIDS in these centers will also be identified during the project implementation.
Nelli Kalikova – Estonia
Introducing alternatives to imprisonment of drug addicts
“My work is my hobby.”
As a health aid worker in Tallinn, Estonia, Nelli Kalikova has been working with intravenous drug users and other people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS for over 20 years. Trained as a physician, she has worked in rehabilitation and needle-exchange programs, as well as serving in the Estonian Parliament from 2003-2007.
Through her work, she has discovered that justice system officials’ lack of knowledge on the health needs of intravenous drug addicts has contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS and to the relapse rate of recovering drug addicts. When detainees and recently released detainees are not provided with the resources that they need to recover from their addiction, they relapse into intravenous drug use with shared needles which hastens the spread of HIV/AIDS. Ms. Kalikova will attempt to mitigate this deadly cycle by providing trainings to judges and probation-supervising officers on harm reduction, treatment, and rehabilitation options for drug addicts within the criminal justice system. This will allow intravenous drug users living with HIV/AIDS to return to sober life and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS through intravenous drug use.
Christian Zarweah – Liberia
Fighting stigma related to, and represent legally, the accused living with HIV/AIDS
“I have lost two close friends and relatives from HIV/AIDS for lack of legal representation and they were left on their own to die. I want to stop this from continuing to happen to others”
Christian Zarweah, an educator and community activist in Ganta, Liberia, has seen first-hand the deathly toll of a flawed criminal justice system on people living with HIV/AIDS. Often, people living with HIV/AIDS in the Liberian criminal justice system simply languish in prison or pre-trial detention because they do not have access to an attorney to plead for their legal and healthcare rights. Mr. Zarweah devoted the early part of his career to improving Liberia’s education system through a retraining program for former child soldiers and the establishment of a community college. His personal experiences of the ravages of the criminal justice system convinced him to turn his teaching skills towards the training of attorneys and volunteers to better defend people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system.
To this end, his project will consist of training specifically targeted volunteer defense attorneys,
sending these attorneys to courts to defend people living with HIV/AIDS, and organizing and training volunteers in specifically targeted communities to notify the attorneys when there are cases that need their aid. In this way, people living with HIV/AIDs within the criminal justice system will no longer languish in prison without the legal defense necessary to ensure that they get a fair trial and the medical assistance that they need to stay alive.