2012 HIV/AIDS JusticeMakers Fellow, Russia
Enhancement of free legal protection for the imprisoned living with HIV/AIDS
“I live in a country where a lot should be changed, and I hope I can still do more. Helping people living with HIV to protect their rights, to inspire them with strength and confidence to see the changes that will inevitably occur in our country”
Larisa Solovyeva (Russia) knows first-hand the numerous problems that people living with HIV/AIDS have to face in Russian prisons. She is herself a person living with HIV, and has repeatedly been convicted because of crimes related to drugs. Due to the lack of availability of free legal assistance from the state and the lack of financial resources in her family, she had to defend her right to receive a proper treatment and medication by reading law books.
A year after she got released from jail, she began to work as a case manager in the public organisation KRDMOO “EULA”, dedicated to educating and training people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) as well as advocating and protecting their rights. Due to a large amount of requests for such help, Ms. Solovyeva decided to make a change and applied for a JusticeMakers Fellowship.
Her project aimed to increase the availability and quality of free legal protection of PLWHA in the prisons of the Kaliningrad region, enforcing it through the involvement of the public representatives. All the work was carried out under the direction of human rights defenders and lawyers, who provided support on a voluntary basis by attending complaints and representing particular cases in the courts.
With her Project, Ms Solovyeva has significantly improved the difficult situation in which prisoners with HIV/AIDS were living. Ms. Soloveya worked to spread greater awareness of HIV/AIDS among prisoners as well as provide direct legal aid. In this regard, numerous consultations in person and by telephone were conducted in order to give prisoners the chance to denounce possible violations of their rights and to help them to react to such violations. Moreover, prisoners were supported during the different stages of judicial proceedings obtaining, for instance, the reduction of several sentences.
In addition to this, prisoners were invited to participate in seminars where they were taught about both their basic human rights and the obligations which governments have with regard to such rights. They were also provided with information about the European Court of Human Rights as well as practical skills useful in judicial proceedings.