Botswana faces legal action over treatment

February 10, 2014 4:56 AM

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Foreign prisoners are also not provided with treatment for their opportunistic infections.

Cindi Kelemi, the executive director of Bonela says it’s irrational and counter-productive to refuse to treat the HIV of foreign prisoners.

“The current policy must be changed because it ultimately increases the State’s medical costs, puts the health of other prisoners at risk, increases the likelihood that non-citizen prisoners with HIV will have higher viral loads and will therefore be more infectious to others – and also puts them at higher risk of drug resistance,” she said.”

The applicants maintain the denial of critical medical treatment to non-citizen prisoners violated the fundamental rights of prisoners guaranteed under Botswana’s Constitution.

They submitted in court papers that without HIV treatment the prisoners’ lives were not only at risk but, based on current medical evidence, it also placed other prisoners at risk of HIV and other opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis.

“The denial of life-saving treatment to prisoners solely on the basis of their citizenship flies in the face of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Botswana Constitution and by Botswana’s legal obligations under international and regional law,” said Priti Patel, deputy director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, which is assisting on the case.

“There is no legitimate justification for putting the prisoners’ lives at serious risk,” Patel added.


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