Cabinet Approves Amendments to Legislation on Deliberate Transmission of HIV/AIDS
Cabinet has approved the amendments to legislation that punishes an individual for deliberately or recklessly transmitting HIV/AIDS. The Criminal Code of Belize, Section 46A, outlines the offence that could result in imprisonment of up to five years for a summary conviction or a maximum of ten years on indictment. According to Minister of Human Development, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, they are collaborating with the Ministry of Health in this regard.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs: “About 22 years ago we passed a law making it a criminal offense to what we would say knowingly transmit HIV. Now back then HIV was quite frightening because it was before the days of the antiretroviral medication and before we learned more about the human rights approach as we call it. So we did pass an amendment to the criminal code making it an offense to know that you have HIV and to be engaging in risky sexual behavior. But so many years later we have come to realize not only that it was unnecessary but also that it flies in the face of modern human rights norms especially where it comes to the health issues. So the Ministry of Human Development, you know myself, and also Minister Kevin Bernard and the Ministry of Health we decided of course based on the recommendation of partners that it is really time to remove that criminalizing of the HIV.”
Minister Garcia also stated that an issue with this bill was the aspect of mother-to-child transmission. She was happy to say this is now a step forward in the right direction for the country.