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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Towards SDG Target 16.7

SDG Target 16.7Early this morning, I woke up suddenly thinking about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and specifically of SDG Target 16.7: “Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels”. Maybe I’m weird to think of this before sunrise. Perhaps I’m suffering from severe repetitive jargon syndrome provoked by an overdose of hearing the SDGs’ mantra “Leave no one behind”. It constantly reverberates down from those at the top of the UN and its Agencies such as the WHO, UNICEF, UNDP and a dozen other organizations.

It seems that they have overlooked Target 16.7 of the SDGs. It appears that most of these UN Agencies do not allow the participation of the millions of some of the most ‘left behind’ — poor folks living with life-threatening or life changing diseases or disabilities, nor support the development of systems for accountable representation to assure that they are included in decisions that concern them.

Maybe those at the top just don’t understand the meaning of “… inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels”. Or perhaps they can not see the value of having the most affected communities having a ‘seat at the table’ with other stakeholders. Have they not read the SDG declarations that they agreed? Have they forgotten that they have signed the Common Understanding between the UN Agencies in 2003, and committed to advancing the meaningful participation of those concerned by their policy decisions and processes?

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