Thaddeus Nwabueze

2012 HIV/AIDS JusticeMakers Fellow, 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.

Project: In order to prevent future violations of this type, conducted  fact-finding missions in Nigeria’s largest prisons and publishing stories of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in these prisons. These stories were used as the basis for meetings that were held with police officials, prison officials, as well as  judicial officials, to inform  them of the correct and legal way to treat people living with HIV/AIDS in prison. This will ensure that justice sector officials have the tools and knowledge to properly implement anti-discrimination policies and will, therefore, allow people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system to live free of discrimination.

Results: Mr Nwabueze created a team of volunteers composed of lawyers and paralegals who visited 3 prisons, 8 police stations and more than 20 magistrates and High Courts in Lagos. The aim of these visits was to verify to what extent police and prison officers, as well as the  detainees, were aware of the rights of  prisoners and accused persons affected by HIV/AIDS.

Additional information was  gathered related to the actual treatment that prisoners with HIV/AIDS   received during their time spent in detention.

The team was also able to identify detainees affected by HIV/AIDS who were in need of legal assistance.

The activities were carried out with the precious support of Mr. Patrick Dunkwu who participated in the Justice Makers Program in 2008. Moreover, Mr Nwabueze obtained the collaboration, among others, of the Nigerian Bar Association and the Nigerian Prison Service.