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Tanzanian MPs, civil society leaders visit UGANET

A delegation of Members of Parliament (MPs) and civil
society leaders from Tanzania has today completed a
benchmarking visit to the Uganda Network on Law, Ethics
The nine-member team comprised three MPs who are
members of Tanzania’s HIV, Narcotics and Tuberculosis
Committee, two staff from the Tanzania Commission for
AIDS, two senior officials from Tanzania’s Council of Persons
Living with HIV (NACOPHA) and a programme officer with
UNAIDS Tanzania.
According to Bihambiro West MP Oscar Rwegasire Mukasa,
who is the chairperson of the HIV, Narcotics and Tuberculosis
Committee, the group visited UGANET ahead of their
meeting with counterparts from the Uganda Parliament
tomorrow (Tuesday, December 10, 2019).
“We thought that meeting the MPs would not complete the
mission if we don’t meet CSOs as well because it is the CSOs
that are helping the MPs to raise issues so that the MPs can
craft their political agenda,” he said.
The Tanzanian delegation was received by the UGANET
Executive Director, Dora Kiconco Musinguzi; the Head of
Legal Aid and Community Justice, Grace Nayiga; the Head of
Advocacy and Strategic Litigation, Immaculate Owomugisha

Bazare and the Head of Partnerships and Training, Falal
Rubanga Faith Jennifer.
Before the meeting with the UGANET team, the Tanzanian
delegation watched two videos about the legal aid and
strategic litigation work that the Ugandan social justice
advocacy organization does.
One of the videos was the video of Sylvia Komuhangi, a
secondary school teacher who had been convicted to three
years in prison by Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kitgum district,
northern Uganda for allegedly infecting a child she was
playing with, with HIV. However, UGANET intervened and,
after presenting a robust defence on appeal, succeeded in
having her sentence struck down.
After watching the video, the Chief Executive Officer of the
NACOPHA, Deogratius Rutatwa, asked about the prevalence
of cases of HIV criminalization such as the one of Komuhangi.
In response, Ms Musinguzi mentioned that UGANET is
currently handling six different cases, showing a rise in cases
of HIV criminalization that the organization has registered
compared to past years.
Ms Musinguzi said UGANET is currently undertaking a study
to determine the extent of criminalization of Persons Living
with HIV. Preliminary results from the study will be shared at
the high-level national dialogue that UGANET is hosting
tomorrow (Tuesday, December 10, 2019).

MP Mukasa also asked whether the laws on HIV that the East
African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has formulated were
playing a crucial role in addressing issues of HIV
criminalization in Uganda. He learnt that the regional law is
largely ceremonial.
“The East African law is supposed to be a model law but it is a
static one,” explained Ms Musinguzi. “We use it in advocacy
for showing good practice but we do not use it in the courts.
It’s just a good principle but it does not direct good practice.”
The Tanzanian delegation expressed their appreciation of the
role that UGANET plays in terms of providing legal knowledge
and representation to Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV).
Mukasa said their visit had offered them with valuable
lessons on challenges of access to justice for PLHIVs.
“We wanted to see the niche that we would gather from an
organization that addresses the legal and ethical issues that
affect Persons Living with HIV,” he said in an interview after
the meeting. “We need a similar organization like this in
Tanzania, especially in health.”

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