Respect Prisoners’ Human Rights

Prisoners“Calling on Governments to Respect Prisoners’ Human Rights and Unite to End TB.” -Communique from ARASA

According to the World Health Organisation, Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide and is the leading cause of death amongst people living with HIV: In 2015, 1.8 million people died from TB. In many African countries, prison conditions violate peoples’ human rights in a manner that exacerbates vulnerabilities to infection with and death from TB.

On this World TB day, the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), ENDA Santé, the Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN), and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), call on African governments to respect prisoners’ human rights and unite to end TB.

TB in prisons

Globally, studies estimate that TB rates are between 5-50 times higher in prisons than in the general population. Cases of TB in prisons can account for 25% of a country’s TB burden.

“Prison conditions in the region provide near-perfect conditions for the spread of TB. Overcrowding, inadequate access to healthcare services, poor nutrition and sanitation in prisons are not only violations of human rights – these conditions also increase the spread of TB,” says Daouda Diouf, Executive Director of Enda Santé.

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Human Rights and WHO Election

Human Rights and WHO ElectionHuman Rights and the Election of the Next WHO Director-General: Public Accountability Now

By Eric Friedman

I believe that human rights, and the right to health in particular, should be a top priority of and guiding principle for the next WHO Director-General, whom the world’s health ministers will choose at the World Health Assembly in May. Human rights, after all, encompass the values needed to achieve health for all and health justice, such as equity, non-discrimination, universality, participation, and accountability. They are legally binding precepts. Above all, they embrace human dignity, and the utmost respect for all people in health systems and health-related decisions. They embody the notion of people-centered health services.

This importance demands electing to the post a credible and strong leader on human rights, someone with a history of fighting injustice, of opposing human rights violations, of standing up for the marginalized and oppressed, of resisting political, corporate, or other interests that stand in the way of human rights. This centrality of human rights means electing an individual willing to stand against forces and policies that tolerate or even perpetuate discrimination, or that let political or other concerns override the rights of women, minorities, immigrants, political opponents, or anyone else. It entails appointing a person who views organizations fighting for human rights as partners, even when their own governments may oppose them.

Three candidates remain in the race to be the next WHO Director-General: Tedros Adhanom, David Nabarro, and Sania Nishtar. All candidates should be accountable for their past support of human rights, and outline their plans for furthering human rights around the world if chosen to lead WHO. While it is important for all candidates to do this, one candidate in particular ought to provide a detailed public account of where he stands, and has stood, on human rights. Having spent more than a decade as a cabinet minister in a government that has committed large-scale human rights abuses, Dr. Tedros must make clear his position and intention.

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