Monday, March 29, 2010

Parliamentarians call for lifting travel restrictions for people living

UNAIDS and the Inter-Parliamentary Union join forces to urge countries to eliminate HIV related restrictions on entry, stay and residence and reduce stigma and discrimination

BANGKOK, 28 March 2010 – Parliamentarians from all parts of world are calling upon governments to remove travel restrictions for people living with HIV. This call was made at the 122nd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Bangkok today.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union and UNAIDS are urging parliamentarians in countries with such restrictions to play a leading role in removing them. The two organizations also encourage parliamentarians to support legislation and law enforcement to protect people living with HIV from discrimination based on HIV status.

“By placing restrictions on the travel and movement of people living with HIV, we needlessly rob them of their dignity and equal rights,” said Theo-Ben Gurirab, President of the Inter- Parliamentary Union. “Parliamentarians have a duty to protect the rights of all citizens, including people living with HIV.

There are 52 countries, territories and areas that have some form of HIV-specific restriction on entry, stay and residence that is based on positive HIV status. These include restrictions that completely ban entry of HIV-positive people for any reason or length of stay; or ban short stays, for example for tourism, or longer stays for immigration, migrant work, asylum, study, international employment, or consular service.

“Travel restrictions for people living with HIV do not protect public health and are outdated in the age of universal access to HIV prevention and treatment,” said Michel SidibĂ©, UNAIDS Executive Director. “Parliamentarians can play a vital role in removing discriminatory laws and restrictions.”

In July 2008, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated the long-standing United Nations call for the elimination of HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence. UNAIDS is closely monitoring which countries continue to employ them and has designated 2010 as the “year of equal freedom of movement for all”.

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