Does criminalisation of HIV transmission truly promote public health goals? Review of ten African HIV laws

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Over ninety World Health Organization Member States have been reported to criminalise HIV transmission and at least fourteen African countries recently adopted new criminal laws to punish HIV transmission. Although the legislative intent behind such laws was to halt the spread of HIV, there is barely any sound logic or evidence to support the presumption that criminalisation could accomplish such preventative goals. In this context, this commentary reviews whether the new laws of ten African countries - Benin, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, Togo, Mauritania, Kenya, and Madagascar - serve the originally intended goals. With an overview of each law, five problems of the laws that hamper prevention efforts have been identified: (1) over-broadly stated mental culpability, (2) lack of specificity in punishable behaviours, (3) no appropriate defence clauses, (4) punishment for simply creating a risk of transmission rather than causing transmission, and (5) the punishing of mother-to-child-transmission. It is concluded that employment of public health measures rather than such criminalisation might be a better policy option for African countries to fight against HIV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-262
Number of pages18
JournalMedical Law International
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jan 1

Fingerprint

criminalization
public health
Law
Guinea-Bissau
Togo
Mauritania
Benin
Guinea
Madagascar
Sierra Leone
Mali
Niger
criminal law
WHO
Kenya
penalty
lack
evidence

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law

Cite this

@article{0e75f88e78bd4e998b32c2c8918e3e3e,
title = "Does criminalisation of HIV transmission truly promote public health goals? Review of ten African HIV laws",
abstract = "Over ninety World Health Organization Member States have been reported to criminalise HIV transmission and at least fourteen African countries recently adopted new criminal laws to punish HIV transmission. Although the legislative intent behind such laws was to halt the spread of HIV, there is barely any sound logic or evidence to support the presumption that criminalisation could accomplish such preventative goals. In this context, this commentary reviews whether the new laws of ten African countries - Benin, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, Togo, Mauritania, Kenya, and Madagascar - serve the originally intended goals. With an overview of each law, five problems of the laws that hamper prevention efforts have been identified: (1) over-broadly stated mental culpability, (2) lack of specificity in punishable behaviours, (3) no appropriate defence clauses, (4) punishment for simply creating a risk of transmission rather than causing transmission, and (5) the punishing of mother-to-child-transmission. It is concluded that employment of public health measures rather than such criminalisation might be a better policy option for African countries to fight against HIV.",
author = "Lee, {Sun Goo}",
year = "2008",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/096853320800900303",
language = "English",
volume = "9",
pages = "245--262",
journal = "Medical Law International",
issn = "0968-5332",
publisher = "A B Academic Publishers",
number = "3",

}

Does criminalisation of HIV transmission truly promote public health goals? Review of ten African HIV laws. / Lee, Sun Goo.

In: Medical Law International, Vol. 9, No. 3, 01.01.2008, p. 245-262.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Does criminalisation of HIV transmission truly promote public health goals? Review of ten African HIV laws

AU - Lee, Sun Goo

PY - 2008/1/1

Y1 - 2008/1/1

N2 - Over ninety World Health Organization Member States have been reported to criminalise HIV transmission and at least fourteen African countries recently adopted new criminal laws to punish HIV transmission. Although the legislative intent behind such laws was to halt the spread of HIV, there is barely any sound logic or evidence to support the presumption that criminalisation could accomplish such preventative goals. In this context, this commentary reviews whether the new laws of ten African countries - Benin, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, Togo, Mauritania, Kenya, and Madagascar - serve the originally intended goals. With an overview of each law, five problems of the laws that hamper prevention efforts have been identified: (1) over-broadly stated mental culpability, (2) lack of specificity in punishable behaviours, (3) no appropriate defence clauses, (4) punishment for simply creating a risk of transmission rather than causing transmission, and (5) the punishing of mother-to-child-transmission. It is concluded that employment of public health measures rather than such criminalisation might be a better policy option for African countries to fight against HIV.

AB - Over ninety World Health Organization Member States have been reported to criminalise HIV transmission and at least fourteen African countries recently adopted new criminal laws to punish HIV transmission. Although the legislative intent behind such laws was to halt the spread of HIV, there is barely any sound logic or evidence to support the presumption that criminalisation could accomplish such preventative goals. In this context, this commentary reviews whether the new laws of ten African countries - Benin, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, Togo, Mauritania, Kenya, and Madagascar - serve the originally intended goals. With an overview of each law, five problems of the laws that hamper prevention efforts have been identified: (1) over-broadly stated mental culpability, (2) lack of specificity in punishable behaviours, (3) no appropriate defence clauses, (4) punishment for simply creating a risk of transmission rather than causing transmission, and (5) the punishing of mother-to-child-transmission. It is concluded that employment of public health measures rather than such criminalisation might be a better policy option for African countries to fight against HIV.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=56249092465&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=56249092465&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/096853320800900303

DO - 10.1177/096853320800900303

M3 - Article

VL - 9

SP - 245

EP - 262

JO - Medical Law International

JF - Medical Law International

SN - 0968-5332

IS - 3

ER -