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Innovative judges forum

Innovative judges forum sensitizes African judges on HIV, TB, SHR, saw & human rights

In Africa, the Regional Judges’ Forum, supported by the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa, has brought together prominent members of the judiciary across Africa to meet and discuss HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), TB, law and human rights issues affecting the region, for the past five years. The Forum, led by the judiciary themselves, provides an opportunity for judges to hear expert medical, scientific and legal evidence on health and human rights issues that they identify as priority concerns.

Members of the Regional Judges’ Forum report that they are increasingly knowledgeable and sensitized on matters relating to HIV, SRHR, TB law and human rights. They have presided over important, precedent-setting judgments in the region. For instance, Forum members were part of important judgments in the High Court of Kenya that ruled that the overbroad criminalization of HIV transmission was unconstitutional and that the imprisonment of patients with TB was unlawful and beyond the parameters of public health legislation. Forum members also presided over a High Court judgment in Malawi overturning the conviction of an HIV-positive woman for exposing a child to HIV through breastfeeding (where HIV was not transmitted) and a decision in Botswana to provide HIV treatment to foreign prisoners with HIV.

The judges are also leading efforts towards sustainable capacity-building of their peers. They have participated in sensitizing their peers to health and human rights issues and are currently supporting the institutionalization of training on HIV, SRHR, TB and human rights into judicial training curricula across Africa. The approach is innovative in that the Forum is owned and led by well-respected African judges themselves, which has led to the development of a core group of committed judges determined to sustain judicial excellence on health and human rights issues in the years ahead.

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