Urgent Botswana application on ARV inmates

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In August, 2014 Justice Bengbame Sechele ordered the Botswana government to provide foreign inmates with ARVs free of charge. This was after two Zimbabwean prisoners, with the help of Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) sued the government for refusing to provide them with free ARVs. Sechele ruled in their favour and agreed with the foreign inmates that refusal to provide them with ARVs was unconstitutional and a breach of human rights.

Mmegi reports that the two prisoners (names withheld) through their attorney Tshiamo Rantao have now filed an urgent application to ensure compliance with the court order. According to the founding affidavit of Keikantse Phele, a BONELA legal advisor, this matter is urgent because the applicant only became aware of the fact that the Permanent Secretaries of Health and Justice, Defence and Security had not been complying with the terms of Sechele’s order. “The whole point of civil contempt proceedings is to ensure compliance with court order.”

She said the ongoing failure to treat foreign prisoners puts their lives at risk and undermines public health. “Everyday that passes without medication is akin to a death sentence for a deserving foreign inmate.” She said the respondents have not taken court into their confidence by showing how many inmates currently deserve to be provided with ARVs and how much that would cost government so that the court could begin to understand their financial strain argument.

Full Mmegi report

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