For immediate release
INCLUSION INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNS COMPULSORY STERILIZATION AND HIV TESTING OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN RWANDA AS A ABHORANT VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
July 6, 2009 (Toronto) - Inclusion International (II), a federation of 200 family-based organizations advocating for the human rights of people with intellectual disabilities worldwide, calls on the international community to oppose a reproductive health bill introduced in the Rwandan Parliament.
The proposed reproductive health bill includes provisions that would impose forced sterilization and mandatory HIV testing on people with intellectual disabilities.
According to the newly introduced bill drafted by the parliamentary committee, physicians would be granted the right to test an "incapacitated" person without their consent and then disclose the testing results to their official guardian.
These provisions would be in direct violation of the Rwandan governments ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Forced sterilization would not only violate the rights of persons with disabilities but is also regarded as a crime against humanity by the International Criminal Court. The mandatory testing of HIV and disclosure of results would infringe on privacy rights and lead to abuse.
People with intellectual disabilities are among the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in our societies, measures such as those proposed by Rwanda despite their international obligations under the Convention, serve to dehumanize and devalue people.
Diane Richler, President of Inclusion International, "People with intellectual disabilities all over the world continue to be victims of human rights abuses. The CRPD was conceived to protect against these kinds of abuses by governments and society. We must build awareness of human rights and call on governments to respect and promote those rights."
For More Information Contact:
Connie Laurin- Bowie
Director, Policy and Programmes
c/o Canadian Association for Community Living
4700 Keele St., York University, Kinsman Building
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, M3J 1P3
Phone: (416) 661-9611 ext.203, Fax: (416)661-5701
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Human Rights Watch Press release
July 1, 2009
Compulsory HIV testing, sterilization of disabled violate rights
(New York) - The Rwandan Parliament should remove provisions in a draft law
that would mandate compulsory HIV testing and require the sterilization of
all individuals with intellectual disabilities, Human Rights Watch said
today. The organization said that the provisions, in a reproductive health
bill, are deeply flawed and violate the government's obligations to uphold
and protect human rights.
"Compulsory HIV testing and forced sterilization are counterproductive to
the Rwandan government's goal of improved reproductive health," said Joe
Amon, health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch. "Provisions in
the current bill that increase stigma, rely on coercion, and deny
individuals their reproductive rights should be removed."
Human Rights Watch said that the reproductive health bill, drafted by the
parliamentary committee whose duties include promoting social welfare,
contains three particularly troublesome provisions related to HIV/AIDS
testing. First it provides that all individuals who plan to marry must
undergo HIV testing and provide a certificate beforehand. Second, married
individuals are required to be tested for HIV/AIDS upon the request of their
spouses. Third, if a physician finds it "necessary" for a child or an
incapacitated person to be tested for HIV/AIDS, he or she may conduct the
test without seeking consent and may show the result to the parent,
guardian, or care provider.
Ensuring that all HIV testing is confidential, conducted with informed
consent, and accompanied by counseling is widely recognized as integral to
effective HIV prevention and treatment strategies. Mandatory HIV testing and
disclosure have been condemned by the Joint United Nations Programme on
HIV/AIDS, the World Health Organization, and the UN's Office of the High
Commissioner of Human Rights as violations of the right to privacy and
counterproductive to effective HIV/AIDS control.
These organizations have also stated that mandatory testing and compulsory
disclosure can put women at increased risk of abuse and undermine public
trust in the health care system. Research by Human Rights Watch on HIV
testing has documented significant abuses associated with coercive testing
The proposed bill also obligates the Rwandan Government "to suspend
fertility for mentally handicapped people." Systematic, forced sterilization
has been recognized as a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court.
In May 2008, Rwanda ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities. The convention upholds the rights of persons with
disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, to equal rights. Human
Rights Watch said that laws on sterilization, including for persons with
disabilities, must respect both a person's right to bodily integrity and
informed consent to medical procedures. Decision-making about sterilization
must take into account each individual's capacity to give informed consent,
and where such capacity is lacking an individualized consideration must be
made of the best interests of the person concerned.
"While Rwanda has made notable progress in fighting stigma and responding to
the AIDS epidemic, and has pledged to advance the rights of persons with
disability, forced sterilization and mandatory HIV testing do not contribute
to those goals," Amon said. "These elements of the bill undermine
reproductive health goals and undo decades of work to ensure respect for
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