HIV Tribunal Kenya: Defending the rights of people living with HIV

HIV Tribunal Kenya: Defending the rights of people living with HIV

A couple of months ago, we were in Kenya for the annual meeting of GFAN, the Global Fund Advocates Network. We used this opportunity to speak with two recipients of Global Fund funding - KELIN and the Red Cross - about a one-of-a-kind initiative: Kenya’s HIV Tribunal, which defends the rights of individuals living with HIV.

Both the European Commission and the Dutch government are strong supporters of the Global Fund, and we wanted to shed light on specific investments that are making a substantial difference. 

Established in 2009 under the HIV and AIDS Prevention Act, the HIV Tribunal prohibits discrimination based on someone’s HIV status. It stands as the only HIV-specific body globally empowered to resolve cases related to violations of HIV-related human rights.

Its key goals include resolving conflicts between people living with HIV/AIDS and service providers, ensuring the protection of their rights, and promoting awareness about their legal rights. Filing a complaint is free. Complainants don’t need legal representation. Hearings are held privately (in camera). Complainants have the choice to keep their identity confidential for privacy reasons. Compared to other legal settings in Kenya where disputes can drag on for years, cases brought before this Tribunal can often be resolved within a matter of weeks.

The Tribunal is supported by a range of actors, including the Global Fund, which funded legal literacy campaigns sensitising the public about the Tribunal, resulting in an increase in the number of cases taken up by the Tribunal and more broadly, fostering stronger public awareness of accountability for HIV-related discrimination. This helps expand access to justice and address stigma and discrimination, ultimately contributing to a more robust AIDS response. 

In its ten years of operation, the Tribunal has delivered milestone judgments that have upheld the human rights of people living with HIV, and has become an important tool in advancing social justice. 

Hear Timothy Wafula Makokha from KELIN and Sophie Njuguna from the Red Cross talk about it more in the video.

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