2012 HIV/AIDS JusticeMakers Fellows

Audace Gatavu – Burundi
Legal representation for HIV/AIDS-infected prisoners

“Detained people are generally heads of the family and are the most active in generating family income. Their detention worsens an untenable situation caused by HIV/AIDS negative impact on families’ savings. Families slide into poverty and the accused in detention is left behind”

Audace Gatavu, a human rights defense attorney in Bujumbura, Burundi, has eyewitness experience with the plight of people living with HIV/AIDS in Burundi’s criminal justice system. In his work as a legal assistant for the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, he saw people living with HIV/AIDS abandoned by their families and friends and without any access to counsel because neither their families nor the government were willing or able to pay for attorneys. Read more…

Dennis Kipruto Mungo – Kenya
Sensitization of prison staff to HIV/AIDS-infected mothers and children

“My commitment is ensuring that justice prevails to the most vulnerable and to ensure that all of them know their rights”.

A provincial ITC and Human Rights Officer in Nairobi (Kenya), 2012 JusticeMakers Fellow Dennis Kipruto Mungo has been involved in capacity building of prison officers and other members of the legal community on human rights relating to HIV/AIDS for inmates for a long time. After being exposed to the poor conditions of children living in Kenyan prisons while working in those prisons, Mr. Mungo decided to change the inhumane situation in which the incarcerated children who live with HIV/AIDS. They are being raised by incarcerated mothers in prisons facilities that are rarely targeted in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts, even though they are the most vulnerable. Read more…

Thaddeus Nwabueze – Nigeria
Prevention of rights violations of the accused living with HIV/AIDS

“[My project] seeks to address the root causes of the violation of the rights of accused PLWHA. In Nigeria the common response by human rights defenders working to address the issue of violation of the rights of PLWHA within the context of the criminal justice system is to seek relief for PLWHA after their rights are violated, thus showing a reactionary approach to the issue of protection of the rights of PLWHA”

Thaddeus Nwabueze, an attorney and civil rights activist in Lagos, Nigeria, has seen first –hand the unconstitutional discrimination that people living with HIV/AIDS face in Nigeria’s criminal justice system. In his more than 10 years of experience in Nigeria’s criminal justice system, he has seen the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS be systematically denied through the exclusion of this vulnerable group from the general prison population and from such vital justice institutions as the courtroom. Read more…

Charles M. Mupenda – Democratic Republic of Congo
Improving legal instruments catered to prisoners living with HIV/AIDS

“Because of my work in rural areas in South-Kivu, I visited many places of detention. I have seen firsthand the accused living with HIV/AIDS. These people are victims of numerous kinds of discrimination, among others denial of access to medical care and free judicial assistance”.

Charles M. Mupenda (DRC) has recently finished his masters degree in Theory and Practice of Human Rights at the Catholic University of Lyon, France. He fulfilled an internship position at the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, until recently, and has experience as a lawyer in his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is eager to take the knowledge and skills obtained during his studies, along with the $5000 JusticeMakers fellowship, and return to his country to begin implementing his project. Read more…

Larisa Solovyeva – 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. Read more…

Dmytro Tupchiienko – Ukraine
Gathering criminal justice system stakeholders about HIV/AIDS-related issues

“According to a 2009 survey, the rate of HIV infection [in Ukrainian prisons] was 15%”

Dmytro Tupchiienko, an attorney and development professional in Kiev, Ukraine, has been working to improve the rule of law in Ukraine for over 10 years. Working with organizations such as EuropeAid and the United Nations Development Project, he has advised the Ukrainian government and other agencies on the legal aspects of development. In doing so, he discovered inconsistencies in both the implementation of laws governing criminal justice officials and in the laws themselves. In particular, he saw a disconnect between the laws as they are written and their implementation when the laws related to the treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system. Read more…

Garima Tiwari – India
Educating lawyers about supreme court’s guidelines on HIV/AIDS

“Justice comes from two words-“Jus” and “Stice”. “Jus” means eternal values and “stice” means standing still. Therefore, justice is eternal values that stand still and in my opinion the project aims to project, promote, and protect one such value-compassion.”

Garima Tiwari, a lawyer in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, saw first-hand the ignorance of justice sector officials about the rights and needs of people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system during her research as a law student at the National Law Institute University. Conservative prison and police officials were unwilling and unable to discuss HIV/AIDS due to the taboo nature of the subject. This leaves people living with HIV/AIDS without their medical and legal necessities. Read more…

Henry Nwaka – Nigeria
Elaboration of a bill defending legal rights of prisoners living with HIV/AIDS

“PLWHA are stigmatized on arrest, detained in separate custodial facilities by prison officials, denied access
to legal counsel and even denied access to the courtrooms by judges.” 

As a criminal defense attorney in Asaba, Nigeria, Henry Nwaka has seen the abuses and rights violations constantly suffered by people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system of Nigeria. Read more…

Tatyana Kochetkova – Russia
Providing legal counsel for the accused living with HIV/AIDS

“Law enforcement officers are surprised by the ability of people to resist their system, when they have the courage to challenge and openly confront the ubiquitous practice of fabrication of criminal cases in relation to vulnerable groups.”

A social worker from the city of Tolyatti in southeastern Russia, Tatyana Kochetkova has been working with intravenous drug users and people living with HIV/AIDS for over 15 years. She has seen first-hand the negative impact of a capricious legal system on the most vulnerable in society as many of her friends and colleagues who are living with HIV/AIDS have been arrested and not given access to legal counsel. Read more…

Daniel Serrano de Rejil – Mexico
Sensitizing prison staff to juveniles living with HIV/AIDS

“I like to work with juveniles in conflict with law. A confident atmosphere has been created

between us. They have many doubts and necessities”.

Daniel Serrano de Rejil has a long experience in leading the promotion of sexual health and young people’s sexual rights in Mexico and all over the world. As a member of the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, he has worked closely and actively with youth to promote different initiatives created and developed by young people on HIV/AIDS and issues relating to the LGBT community. Read more…

Nelli Kalikova – Estonia
Introducing alternatives to imprisonment of drug addicts

“My work is my hobby.”

As a health aid worker in Tallinn, Estonia, Nelli Kalikova has been working with intravenous drug users and other people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS for over 20 years. Trained as a physician, she has worked in rehabilitation and needle-exchange programs, as well as serving in the Estonian Parliament from 2003-2007. Read more…

 Christian Zarweah – Liberia
Fighting stigma related to, and represent legally, the accused living with HIV/AIDS

“I have lost two close friends and relatives from HIV/AIDS for lack of legal representation and they were left on their own to die. I want to stop this from continuing to happen to others”

Christian Zarweah, an educator and community activist in Ganta, Liberia, has seen first-hand the deathly toll of a flawed criminal justice system on people living with HIV/AIDS. Often, people living with HIV/AIDS in the Liberian criminal justice system simply languish in prison or pre-trial detention because they do not have access to an attorney to plead for their legal and healthcare rights. Mr. Zarweah devoted the early part of his career to improving Liberia’s education system through a retraining program for former child soldiers and the establishment of a community college. His personal experiences of the ravages of the criminal justice system convinced him to turn his teaching skills towards the training of attorneys and volunteers to better defend people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system. Read more…