Towards principles on criminalisation and human rights

The ICJ today highlighted the negative impacts of criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission, on human rights, as well as an ongoing initiative to develop a set of relevant principles, at the UN Human Rights Council.

The oral statement, delivered during the General Debate under Agenda Item 3, was titled “Developing principles to address the detrimental impact on health, equality and human rights of criminalization with a focus on select conduct in the areas of sexuality, reproduction, drug use and HIV” and read as follows:

“The ICJ welcomes the High Commissioner’s report (A/HRC/41/27) on human rights in the response to HIV.

Unjust criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission is a barrier to the realization of human rights – fostering stigma, discrimination, violence and abuse.

Last year, the ICJ – supported by UNAIDS, OHCHR and UNDP – convened a meeting of jurists to address the harmful effects of misuse of criminal law in relation to HIV and other issues.

The meeting endorsed civil society’s call for jurists to elaborate a set of principles to assist legislatures, the courts, administrative and prosecutorial authorities, and advocates address the deleterious impact on health, equality, and human rights of criminalization in a range of areas. In addition to HIV, jurists concluded the principles should address criminalization of sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including abortion; criminalization of consensual sexual conduct, including sex work, sex outside marriage, same-sex relations, and adolescent sexual activity; and criminalization of drug use and of possession of drugs for personal use.

To ensure the jurists’ principles are effective and protect the most at-risk individuals, the process for developing them is as important as the content of the principles themselves. Thus, broad consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including national and international civil society organizations, UN human rights mandate holders and UN agencies, is ongoing.”

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