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Punitive laws promote HIV stigma

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The criminalisation of HIV simply promotes stigma and undermines the remarkable global scientific advances and proven public health strategies that could open the path to defeating AIDS by 2030, Justice Edwin Cameron has said. The pioneering judge and activist from South Africa, who went public about his positive HIV status in 1999 was giving a key note address during a four day training for lawyers and media on HIV and TB criminalisation in Johannesburg recently. Justice Cameron began with an overview of how criminal HIV transmission and exposure laws are both HIV specific and those that use existing assault legislation, are “stunningly wide in their application and fearsome in their effects.”

He said there was need to question why criminal law singles out HIV-positive people for prosecution when the same Criminal Code powers are not being used against those who expose people to other potentially deadly conditions.”I feel a sort of intensity about these issues because of the path I have walked. I have been close to death from AIDS. I’ve had my life given back to me. And I’m still the only person holding public office in the whole of Africa who has spoken out about living with HIV.” He argued that laws are misconceived and an ineffective tool for preventing transmission since the majority of transmissions occur during consensual sex when neither partner is aware of their HIV status.

“The biggest fallacy is that criminal law protects those who are HIV negative. But all it does really is to double stigmatise people,” he stated. Being openly gay, Justice Cameron said he has also felt the sense of shame when he was first diagnosed. “You can’t understand HIV stigma until you understand sexual transmission of HIV”. Adding, “It is this shame that explains why we target HIV.” Justice Cameron emphasised on the role of human rights and the need to fight stigma and discrimination as an important element of taming the HIV epidemic.

He also referred to the motion unanimously adopted in November 2015 that was moved by Human Rights lawyer and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader Duma Boko and that was seconded by Ahmed Shaik Imam of South Africa during SADC-PF joint session. The motion had called on SADC member states to consider rescinding and reviewing punitive laws specific to the prosecution of HIV transmission, exposure and non-disclosure. It also reiterated the role by parliamentarians to enact laws that support evidence-based HIV prevention and treatment interventions that conform to regional and international human rights frameworks. “We have to go back a few steps and consider how we use power and mechanism of the use of law. It must be based on facts, not on stigma and stereotypes,” Justice Cameron concluded.

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BMC secures beef market in Seychelles

Dikarabo Ramadubu

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Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) will soon start to sell its beef to the Island of Seychelles. Not only will they sell frozen raw meat, but will also send corned beef for trial in the Island.

All this is thanks to last week’s visit by President Mokgweetsi Masisi who included in his delegation executive management of the BMC, led by Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale.
The agreement signed between BMC and two leading Seychelles companies, will see BMC exporting at least 48 tonnes of raw beef to the island possibly from October. The names of the two companies that BMC signed an agreement with are Seychelles Trading Company which is a quasi-government organisation, and Rosebelle Company which is privately owned.

Although both have agreed to trade with each other, BMC cannot start immediately, as they have to wait for the green light from Seychelles companies who still have to apply for import permits in accordance with the law of their republic.

Speaking to The Midweek Sun, Tombale expressed gratitude that they managed to get good business in Seychelles through the assistance of President Masisi. “We are ready to export any time from now. As you know Seychelles is an island surrounded by mountains and cannot produce much if not anything. “They therefore depend much on imports even from as far as Brazil and Europe. Their economy is driven by tourism and they do not differ much with the European market in terms of the demand for beef as most tourists come from Europe and United States.”

Dr. Tombale said they agreed with the two companies that since “we are not sure about the logistics we will start by selling 24tonnes to each company per month, meaning we will be supplying the Island with a total of 48 tonnes per month. The idea is to start small and grow bigger as the people get used to our beef.” BMC has also negotiated to sell small stock meat to Seychelles and successfully negotiated for local chicken farmers to start selling their range chicken to Seychelles as well.

According to Tombale, he negotiated the deal after being approached by local chicken farmers amongst them Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete, who requested that “we should try to find a market for chicken farmers as we go around the world searching for the beef market.” Tombale revealed that for a start both range chickens and small stock will not be supplied in tonnes or large quantities as they will be sold on a trial basis.

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G-west community reunion-walk a resounding success

Keletso Thobega

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Multitudes turned up for the Mosengwaketsi community walk and braai session this past Saturday in Gaborone West. The walk was held in the morning and was preceded by football games and a braai session that went on until late in the evening.

According to the event director Tshenolo Palai, the aim of the community day event was to revive community spirit and address crime and social ills. “The Mosengwaketsi community reunion will be held not only to create a platform to build unity but also address the social ill of passion killings,” he said.

Palai said that they had also invited health stakeholders for a wellness segment because they had realised that there are many health related conditions that affect the quality of people’s lives hence they had joined forces with religious organisations, the business community, neighbourhood outreach policing and other stakeholders in the area to encourage a culture of unity and create dialogue between all the parties.

He noted that they had wanted to create a relaxed environment conducive for different people to engage and strengthen their networks. He said they were also concerned with the high rate of crimes of passion in Botswana and also wanted to create a platform for both men and women to open up on issues that affect them because most people tend to be more relaxed in a social setting.

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