Via the Daily Monitor, by Mercy Nalugo.

Ugandan Lawmakers Wednesday resisted pressure from the human rights defenders and backed the new HIV /Aids Prevention and Control Bill that seeks to criminalise the intentional spread of HIV/Aids.

Briefing the new members on the Parliamentary HIV/Aids committee about their expectations, work plan and how far the eighth Parliament had gone with scrutinising the controversial Bill, the new committee chairperson, Ms Rosemary Najjemba Muyinda (NRM, Gomba) said most of the controversial clauses in the Bill were dropped.

“The Bill is now in its advanced stages since it was discussed by our colleagues in the eighth Parliament. So many stakeholders have been consulted and all the contentious issues were dropped. The Bill once passed into law will protect those without HIV from being infected. We have to take the Bill forward,” Ms Najjemba said.

She said the principles in the Bill were agreeable to the committee members since they are aimed at combating the intentional spread of HIV/Aids.

“For example why should someone infect the other with aids intentionally? That is a crime that should not go unpunished,” she said.

The controversial Bill that hands down a 10 year penalty in jail to individuals that knowingly infect others with the deadly aids disease has faced a lot of criticism from the human rights defenders both local and international.

They argue that the Bill violates human rights and threatens the progress the country has so far attained in fighting HIV/Aids as it legislates for mandatory testing for HIV and forced disclosure of HIV status.

Some of the human rights defenders against the Bill include Action Aid International,l Uganda Global AIDS Alliance,United States,the Global Forum on MSM & HIV United States,Global Coalition of Women against AIDS in Uganda,Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organisation (UNASO) and Uganda Young Positives among others.

Also in the Bill, Women who transmit HIV to their infants after birth through breast milk would also be subject to criminal prosecution. The activists concern is that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to determine who infected the other in courts of law hence making ignorance of one’s status an effective defence.

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