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July 18, 2008

Australian Judge Slams HIV Criminalization

An Australian judge has challenged the global community to condemn laws that criminalize HIV-positive people in developing nations, The Canberra Times reports (canberratimes.com.au 7/16).

High Court Justice Michael Kirby spoke before the International Criminal Law Reform conference July 15 in Dublin. “Those countries that have adopted a human rights–respecting approach to the HIV/AIDS epidemic have been far more successful in containing the spread of HIV than those countries that have adopted punitive, moralistic, denialist strategies, including those relying on the criminal law as a sanction,” he said. Some nations that he said continue to criminalize people living with HIV include sub-Saharan African countries such as Benin, Guinea, Mali and Sierra Leone.

Justice Kirby served as a member of the World Health Organization’s Inaugural Global Commission on AIDS from 1988 to 1992. Since 2004, he has been a member of the UNAIDS global reference panel on HIV/AIDS and human rights.

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