Dialogue on Scaling Up HIV-related Legal Aid Programmes in ChinaJan 21, 2015
Today 30 people representing the most prominent HIV and legal organizations in China participated in a UNDP-led consultation on HIV-related legal aid services. The goal of the meeting was to bring together the most experienced organizations to design a programme that in time will lead to HIV legal services being scaled-up and replicated nationwide.
Since 2012 UNDP has been supporting Daytop Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation Centre in Kunming, Yunnan, to provide legal aid services to people living with HIV. This pilot programme was able to help hundreds of people with basic discrimination cases such as rental disputes, education and employment discrimination and stigma in the health care sector. Today’s dialogue hoped to replicate this community-based model of legal aid service provision in other provinces in China.
In fact, it is a critical time to respond to the AIDS epidemic in China. Most recent data shows that while globally we have made remarkable progress in slowing infections and rolling out treatment, in a number of countries new infections continue to increase. While China has made incredible investments in treatment and prevention services, many people still choose not to get tested and access treatment in time. The biggest barrier to accessing these services remains widespread stigma and discrimination. The enforcement of even the most basic rights for people living with HIV is often difficult because of high levels of stigma, a serious shortage of legal aid services and concerns about the possible disclosure of people’s identity during legal proceedings.
In the last few years a number of social organizations have started providing legal aid services, but these individuals and organizations often work in isolation and with limited external support. UNDP believes that achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care in China requires an equal commitment to universal access to legal services. “Access to justice is a core area of UNDP’s work. One of our objectives is to empower the poor and most disadvantaged in society to access fair judicial processes that can help them redress rights violations and achieve long term human development,” said Christophe Bahuet, UNDP Country Director.
Last year alone the UNDP-Daytop pilot project in Kunming, Yunnan Province was able to process more than 500 cases. The dialogue today hopes to further strengthen and replicate this model across China.