Tribunal tackles AIDS discrimination

July 31, 2014 4:00 pm
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Joe Muriuki, a member of the tribunal says in the 45 cases, 20 people were found guilty of ill-treating people living with the virus/FILE
Joe Muriuki, a member of the tribunal says in the 45 cases, 20 people were found guilty of ill-treating people living with the virus/FILE
NAIROBI Kenya, July 31 – Since its establishment in 2009, The HIV and AIDS Tribunal has dealt with 60 cases where people were discriminated for being HIV positive in Kenya.

Out of the 60 cases, 45 were arbitrated by the tribunal.

Joe Muriuki, a member of the tribunal says in the 45 cases, 20 people were found guilty of ill-treating people living with the virus.

Those found guilty he says are required to give financial compensation.

“The role is to arbitrate against complaints arising from stigma, discrimination…if people present complaints that they have been violated for being HIV positive,” he says.

“The tribunal also educates offenders to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination at the workplace and community at large.”

Muriuki however says the small number of complaints received by the tribunal is attributed to its low capacity ranging from human, physical and financial constrains.

“The biggest challenge facing the tribunal currently is the inadequacy in its resources capacity,” he lamented.

In this financial year, he said they have been allocated Sh101 million.

A case at hand is that of Justine Ombour who lives with the virus and was compensated with Sh1.4 million after she was sacked because of being HIV positive.

“They did not explain well in the termination letter, they only indicated that I was unfit,” she recounted during an interview with Capital FM News.

“The medical institution was also directed to pay some money for giving the information to my company without even taking me for counselling sessions.”

“I was sacked in 2002, but I only came to know of my status in April after I was sacked. I saw it in the medical report.”

She lamented that, “she only gave out her blood without knowing what test was being undertaken.”

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has since called on the tribunal to expand its network across the country in a bid to help more people living with the disease.

Macharia says the expansion would help the 1.6 million Kenyans who are currently living with HIV and Aids by ensuring they are not stigmatised.

He was speaking on Thursday while he launched the tribunal’s five-year strategic plan which he says will help people living with the virus.

He pointed out that current statistics on new infections indicate that 101,560 people are infected annually.

“The strategic plan will aim at addressing four key outcome areas for reform and improvement that include; governance and management as well as communications,” he stated.

“The Government of Kenya is committed to ensuring universal justice to all citizens, hence the formation of the HIV and AIDS tribunal that has the critical role of addressing stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV and AIDS,” he stated.

“My ministry is fully committed to support the activities of the tribunal to enable it operate effectively and efficiently.”

He urged Kenyans to accept those living with the disease saying, “We should constantly remind ourselves that the rights of those living with the disease are not secondary to those who are not affected.”

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