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Attorney General to strengthen legislation on HIV-related human rights   
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Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, on Monday gave the assurance that the legal framework on human rights would be strengthened to restore dignity to persons living with HIV and AIDs in Ghana.

Addressing participants at a two-day National Consultation Meeting on improving the legal framework concerning human rights and HIV and AIDS issues in Accra on Monday, Dr Kunbuor noted that the right to life would be meaningless unless it was linked to livelihood itself.

He said framers of the 1992 Constitution intended equal enjoyment of human rights regardless of one’s status in life therefore, there was the need for renewed commitment, both politically and socially to ensure that the vulnerable in society were not left out.

Speaking on the topic: “Good Governance and Human Rights: Ingredients for Achieving the Health Outcomes for Marginalised Population in Ghana”, Dr Kunbuor expressed worry about high statistics on stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV and AIDS.
He asked that much documentation be provided to enable the Attorney General's Department progress on drafting suitable legislations on HIV in Ghana.

However, Dr Kunbuor stated that enactment of laws alone would not help eliminate stigma and discrimination and called for the total involvement of all law enforcement agencies in the enforcement of human rights regulations of the vulnerable including people living with HIV and AIDS.

The meeting which was organised by UNDP and UNAIDS in partnership with the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), sought to elaborate recommendations for the improvement and strengthening of the judiciary in order to implement and analyse controversial legal nature linked to human rights and HIV in Ghana.

It would ensure the implementation of a working group on HIV to follow-up on the recommendations made at the meeting, exchange and identify the perspectives and strategies that guaranteed effectiveness of the legal framework in the epidemiology, socio-economic and cultural context of Ghana.

Dr Leopold Zekeng, Country Coordinator, UNAIDS, said Ghana was yet to conduct a stigma index, but did not think the outcome would differ from what pertained in countries that had conducted similar researches.

He stressed the need to maintain the commitment and political will in upholding human rights of the vulnerable in society and hoped the outcome of the meeting would form the basis for political dialogue on a legal framework on human rights for HIV and AIDS.

“HIV-related stigma and discrimination is retarding efforts of ensuring access to care and treatment for PLHIV in Ghana”, adding, “when people’s rights were not protected, they become vulnerable and lose confidence in seeking care.”

Dr Zekeng stressed on the importance of partnership as a key component in the long journey of attaining the three zeros which were: “Zero new infections, Zero discrimination and Zero HIV and AIDS-related deaths”.

Participants included representatives from Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), Ministries, United Nations Agencies, human rights as well as community-based organisations, health professionals, Parliamentarians, Religious leaders, People Living with HIV (PLHIV) associations, the Judicial Service, National Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the Media.

Source: GNA

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