About the Regional HIV Legal Network
Eastern Europe and Central Asia is one of two regions in the world where new HIV infections are still on the rise. It is estimated by UNAIDS that the number of people living with HIV (PLHIV) were 1.4 million in 2011. Although effective prevention and treatment measures are known and used, they are not available in the region at the scale needed to effectively reverse the epidemic and achieve Millennium Development Goal 6. As many of those most affected by HIV reside on the margins of society, the law and its application can be a tool for protecting public health and ensuring human rights by:
- Putting in place laws that protect and promote human rights.
- Repeal of punitive laws that discriminate against and stigmatize on the basis of actual or perceived HIV status.
- Ensuring that existing human rights commitments and constitutional guarantees are enforced.
- Ensuring the provision of information and health services that protect PLHIV, key populations most at risk of HIV infection, and other people at risk.
The Regional HIV Legal Network unites legal professionals who provide free legal aid to people living with HIV, people affected by HIV such as family and partners, as well as representatives of the key populations most at risk of HIV, in cases when these people cannot afford legal aid, or do not have access to justice. The Network also provides knowledge resources to help PLHIV, legal aid workers, and other interested parties to use the law for better rights recognition and empowerment. It enables the submission of signals and complaints for rights violation of people living with, or affected by HIV and helps channel the signal to the appropriate service provider. It also facilitates the monitoring of rights violation and free legal aid provided. Initially founded by human rights lawyers and activists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine in 2012, the Network is supported by the UNDP under the project “HIV, Rights, and Universal Access in Eastern Europe”, co-financed by the European Union. The Network aspires to include service providers in all former Soviet countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and become a regional leader in free legal aid to people living with or affected by HIV and key populations.
The Regional HIV Legal Network promotes a favorable legal environment and good legal practices to protect the human rights and legal interests of people living with or affected by HIV and key populations most at risk of HIV infection. The Network aims to accomplish its mission by:
- Strengthening the advocacy skills of non-state actors to lobby effectively for improved access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support, especially for people living with HIV, adolescents and vulnerable groups such as women, prisoners, migrant workers, men having sex with men, sex workers and people who inject drugs.
- Enhancing the quality of services, provided by its members, partners and affiliates and the public sector and the integration of prevention, treatment and care services.
- Collecting and channeling complaints and signals about rights violations and monitoring the scope and quality of legal services provided in response.
- Strengthening partnerships and coordination among non-state actors and, if relevant, with public bodies in a country or on a regional level, actions supporting development of regional ownership strategies and the exchange of lessons learned and good practice in HIV prevention, treatments and care.
- Forging partnerships with other regional and international networks and organizations, donors and supporters.
In so doing, the Network will increase the capacity of communities to access quality legal services and support the protection, upholding, and fulfillment of their rights through legal aid, advocacy, information dissemination, and capacity building.
Improve access to legal information and services for PLHIV in the region.
Strengthen the capacity of civil society actors to establish mechanisms for monitoring human rights violations.
Institutionalize capacity development support to civil society actors engaged in legal aid and legal advocacy related to HIB at national levels.
Establish links with global HIV legal networks that provide legal aid to PLHIV.
Collecting and Publishing HIV-related legislation, jurisprudence, and legal practice.
Disseminating information about lawyers and organizations that provide legal aid related to HIV.
Sharing information and expert advice with those that provide legal aid.
Facilitating the provision of HIV-related legal aid by providing support to organization-members of the network.
Advocating for the increased availability of pro bono legal services, as provided by law firms in the region, law schools, and committed individual lawyers.
Collecting and channeling information about rights violation in countries of the region through online signals and complaints
Monitoring protection, upholding, and fulfillment or the rights of PLHIV in conjunction with national organizations.
Providing support and opportunities for skill-building and criteria for quality assurance of legal services provided.
Documenting the results of legal services rendered.
Advocating for a more favorable legal environment that better promotes the rights of PLHIV including legal reforms at the national, regional, and international levels.
Supporting the preparation and carrying out trainings and seminars for lawyers and law students, as well as trainings on HIV and the Law for medical and social workers, representatives of law enforcement bodies, and communities.
Робин С. Шарма