PRESS RELEASE:-Deputy Secretary General, CARICOM Secretariat, challenges parliamentarians to implement CARICOM Model Anti-Discrimination Bill
Wednesday, May 31, 2017 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) Regional Parliamentarians Forum, 30 – 31 May, Kingston, Jamaica, concluded with recommendations from parliamentarians on a non-partisan approach to issues related to stigma, discrimination and HIV transmission.
Approximately 60 regional parliamentarians engaged in intense discussions from May 30 – 31 and the following recommendations were proposed:
- Parliamentarians agreed that issues involving the role of stigma and discrimination in perpetuating HIV transmission should be non-partisan and every effort must be made to protect vulnerable populations susceptible to HIV transmission including youths and LGBT.
- Parliamentarians advocated for more sensitization of the public about the role that stigma and discrimination plays in the transmission of HIV. Public education tools recommended included using the school curriculum to propagate the anti-discrimination message, community education, leveraging the influence of faith-based leaders, collaborating with parent teacher associations and other groups related to education.
- A recommendation was made for intensified oversight by parliamentarians to ensure that health care providers and law enforcement are not discriminating against HIV positive persons and key populations.
- Parliamentarians advocated for a broad based stakeholder engagement to discuss issues affecting key populations with emphasis on stigma, discrimination and HIV transmission.
- Parliamentarians proposed the creation of a mechanism through which parliamentarians can meet to collaborate and share best practices to further the agenda to end AIDS by 2030. In particular, the establishment of a regional coordinating committee for parliamentarians was recommended. This body would serve to further the discussions and issues raised at the Regional Parliamentarians Forum with the overarching aim of formulating policies and strategies to protect vulnerable groups that can be advocated at the policymaking level.
- Further, parliamentarians recommended a workshop for engagement with regional parliamentarians, NGOs, faith based organizations on the 90-90-90 Targets and strategies to accomplish the end of AIDS by 2030.
- Youth also formed a large part of the discussion. It was recommended that countries invest in public awareness campaigns targeted at the youth population on condom use and HIV transmission.
In closing remarks, Deputy Secretary-General, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan, challenged all parliamentarians in attendance to commence the implementation of the CARICOM Model Anti-Discrimination Bill. Ambassador Soeknandan stated that the model was approved in 2012, yet no efforts were made by member countries to adopt the recommendations proposed by the model.
The Deputy Secretary-General tasked parliamentarians with taking immediate steps to adopt the recommendations of the model with the overarching aim of full implementation by July 2018.
Following unanimous agreement, Ambassador Soeknandan requested that parliamentarians provide consistent updates on the progress of implementing the Model Anti-Discrimination Bill and emphasized that the overall benefit would be the protection of vulnerable populations, more key populations accessing health services and testing for HIV, reduction in HIV transmission and deaths from AIDS.
The PANCAP Regional Parliamentarians Forum was a platform for parliamentarians from across the Region to discuss their involvement in ending HIV and AIDS. Government ministers and members of the opposition participated.
The Forum, which is funded by the Global Fund and facilitated by the PANCAP Coordinating Unit and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), formed part of a wider intervention programme created by PANCAP within its Justice For All (JFA) Roadmap.