Focus on criminalization - Public lecture by HIV-positive judge from South Africa's top court kicks off sold-out Toronto symposium on HIV, Law and Human Rights

    TORONTO, June 9 /CNW/ - Judges are used to handing down decisions from
the bench on sensitive, complex issues, but this Friday, at Osgoode Hall in
Toronto, a world-renowned judge will address a particularly controversial
topic that has made headlines in recent months: the criminalization of people
who have exposed others to HIV.
    The public lecture by Justice Edwin Cameron of South Africa's
Constitutional Court launches the 1st Annual Symposium on HIV, Law and Human
Rights, hosted by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. More than 160
researchers, lawyers and community activists are registered to attend.
    The issue strikes a personal chord for Justice Cameron, who made
headlines himself in 1999 when he came out publicly as HIV-positive, a
courageous gesture that especially resonated in his home country and across
Africa, which has borne the brunt of the global epidemic and its twin shadows,
denial and shame. To date, he remains the only government official in Africa
to declare his or her HIV-positive status.
    The next day following his public lecture, Justice Cameron will chair a
panel at the Symposium titled "Challenging criminal charges for HIV
transmission and exposure." Participants include leading criminal defence
lawyers Marlys Edwardh and Lucie Joncas, advocate Michaela Clayton from
Namibia, Angel Parks from the AIDS Committee of Toronto, as well as Professor
Barry Adam from the University of Windsor, who is leading the first Canadian
study on the impact of these criminal prosecutions.
    "We are so pleased that Justice Cameron will be our keynote speaker,"
says the Legal Network's Executive Director, Richard Elliott. "He is a
thoughtful and passionate speaker. His address will go beyond the headlines
and examine more carefully the serious legal and public health policy
considerations of criminalization."
    Under Canadian criminal law, a person living with HIV may be guilty of a
crime for not disclosing his or her HIV-positive status before engaging in
activities that risk exposing another person to HIV. In Canada alone, charges
have been laid against more than 90 people living with HIV. In recent years,
the Legal Network has tracked an increase in the criminalization of HIV
exposure and has publicly expressed its concerns about the negative
consequences of the ever-widening use of the criminal law with respect to HIV.

    About the 1st Annual Symposium on HIV, Law and Human Rights

    In response to the need for more information and debate, the Legal
Network launched this annual forum for policy-makers, legal professionals,
health researchers, activists, and people living with or vulnerable to
HIV/AIDS. The day-long event features panel discussions and training workshops
on advancing Canadian law and policy, based on scientific evidence and human
rights principles ( Topics include: prisoners' right
to HIV prevention, treatment and care; Canada's law on global access to
affordable medicines; challenging criminal charges for HIV transmission and
exposure; and emerging issues in Canada's drug policy.

    About the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

    The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ( promotes the human
rights of people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, in Canada and
internationally, through research, legal and policy analysis, education, and
community mobilization. The Legal Network is Canada's leading advocacy
organization working on the legal and human rights issues raised by HIV/AIDS.

    Details for Justice Cameron's Public Lecture:

    Friday, June 12, 2009 - 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
    Osgoode Hall
    130 Queen St. West, Toronto

    Justice Edwin Cameron of the Constitutional Court of South Africa will
present a public lecture on "Criminalization of HIV Transmission and Human
    Notes: Prior to Justice Cameron's public lecture, the Legal Network and
Human Rights Watch will be presenting Awards for Action to two distinguished
winners. Also, following Justice Cameron's presentation, there will be a
cocktail reception.

    Details for the 1st Annual Symposium on HIV, Law and Human Rights:

    Saturday, June 13, 2009 - 9:00 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
    Courtyard by Marriott Hotel
    475 Yonge St. (between Wood St. and Alexander St.), Toronto
    Full schedule and list of presenters:

For further information:

For further information: including a detailed biography and interviews:
Gilles Marchildon, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Phone: (416) 595-1666 ext.
228, Mobile: (647) 248-2400,

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