2008年12月31日星期三

【China AIDS:3492】 爱知行研究所接受税务稽查情况通报

爱知行研究所接受税务稽查情况通报
北京爱知行研究所 2008年12月31日发布
 

北京知爱行信息咨询有限责任公司(曾用名"北京知爱行信息咨询中心"、"北京爱知行健康教育研究所",常用名"北京爱知行研究所")200899接获北京市海淀区地方税务局稽查局电话通知,要求对我机构20061120071231期间涉税情况进行检查,并调取我机构20061120071231的帐簿、记帐凭证、报表和其他有关资料,并要求到税务机关进行检查。910,我机构工作人员来到海淀区地方税务局稽查局并接获税务稽查书面通知。

 

我机构是一个在北京市工商部门登记注册的机构,主要开展艾滋病防治等公益工作,并致力于通过教育、关怀、研究和呼吁,维护我国的艾滋病病毒感染者和艾滋病人的权益,消除对感染者和病人的歧视,预防艾滋病病毒的进一步传播,为感染者权益和公共健康营造一个友善的社会环境。

 

2008年9月下旬,我机构配合税务稽查部门,对我机构2006年和2007年纳税情况进行了检查。10月底,我机构得到税务稽查部门通知,前往税务部门处理稽查工作后续事务。我们被告知,本次税务稽查没有发现问题,并在一份认为没有发现问题的税务检查结果报告上盖章和签字。我们等待税务部门正式的税务稽查报告,但是,2个月过去了,我们没有拿到税务稽查结果报告。

 

在本次税务稽查中,我们也发现一些小的税务问题,比如一个很小的税种"印花税"中的小税种(涉及捐赠款归类)没有缴纳(每年税务审计机构也没有提醒我们这个小小税种,5年大约税金在7500元)。目前,我们已经补缴。

 

特此通告!爱知行研究所每年年度工作总结和财务报告、财务和税务审计报告,对外是可以公开的。


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【China AIDS:3491】 北京爱知行研究所维吾尔项目志愿者招聘启事

北京爱知行研究所维吾尔项目志愿者招聘启事

北京爱知行研究所 20081231发布

 

北京爱知行研究所(Beijing Aizhixing Institute)是一家位于北京的艾滋病民间组织,但在中国大陆各地开展艾滋病防治工作。北京爱知行研究所致力于在社会边缘人群和艾滋病脆弱人群中开展艾滋病防治工作,在艾滋病防治工作中推动人权保护和社群参与,目标人群包括男女同性恋者、双性恋者、跨性别人士、性工作者、毒品成瘾者、流动人口、少数民族、艾滋病病毒感染者和艾滋病人、血液或血液制品消费者、青少年。北京爱知行研究所关注广泛的公共卫生和人权事务。

 

2006年开始,爱知行研究所开始在北京等地的维吾尔族流动人群中开展艾滋病防治工作和健康教育工作。由于维吾尔项目工作进一步拓展,现拟招聘维吾尔项目志愿者数名,主要职责:

工作方向:维吾尔社群健康和发展;

针对目标群体在街头社区定期进行艾滋病防治教育等外展工作;

策划和组织当地社群工作的开展

在大学和中学里针对维吾尔族学生开展艾滋病防治教育工作

协助维吾尔项目人员在北京、昆明、武汉、成都,广州等地区的工作

 

职位要求如下:

1、拟招会听说维、汉双语,有双语沟通、写作能力的;

2、有较强的责任心,及较强团队意识的;

3、有敏锐的洞察力,对艾滋病相关边缘人群持友好态度;

5、在校大学生或社会热爱公益事业的人士;

7、了解公共卫生基本常识的;

工作地点:北京,广州,成都,武汉,昆明

 

如果您对以上志愿者工作感兴趣,请将您的简历(请务必包含一封自荐信和简历)发给我们,请发xmmar2004@ yahoo.com.cn,同时抄送:wanyanhai@gmail. com

招聘截止日期:2009131


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【China AIDS:3487】 关于2008年11月拘留、强制医学检测和刑事起诉性工作者嫌疑人,致马其顿政府的公开信

关于2008年11月拘留、强制医学检测和刑事起诉性工作者嫌疑人,致马其顿政府的公开信

发布日期:2008年12月17日

 

内务部长戈尔达娜·扬库洛夫斯卡(Gordana Jankulovska)夫人

内务部副部长和国内管理部门长官(Chief of Sector for Internal Control)Aneta Stancevska夫人

卫生部长Bujar Osmani先生

巡察官伊杰特·梅梅蒂(Idzet Memeti)先生

 

亲爱的部长们和巡察官:

 

    在国际终止对性工作者暴力日这一天,本文件的签署者、性工作者的支持者和代表以及倡导人权的组织和个人,强烈谴责与马其顿斯科普里市最近对性工作者嫌疑人的大逮捕有关的警察行动。我们还深切关注马其顿政府部长为警方侵犯一系列人权的行为辩护——而且在这样做的时候错误地引起了公共健康争论,并且故意助长了不宽容的气氛,这只会提高性工作者遭到进一步的侵犯,包括暴力的风险——的报告。

 

背景

    2008年11月20日晚间"Bit Pazar"警察局、"阿尔法"特别机动警队和内务部当地分局的警察对斯科普里著名的红灯区进行了一次大规模突袭,逮捕了超过30人(多数是被怀疑为性工作者的妇女),并且以涉嫌"卷入卖淫"(一项轻罪)等理由通宵拘留他们。

    第二天,那些被指控为性工作者的被拘留者被警方强制接受HIV和乙肝、丙肝检测。在明确得知这一计划之后,当妇女们被带来接受检测时,几家媒体的代表出现在大学传染病诊所(University Clinic for Infectious Diseases)。媒体随后发表和播出了妇女们被警车押进诊所的照片,以及她们因为"卷入卖淫"而被逮捕的信息和关于发生突袭的街道的信息。内务部在其网站上发表了警察局拍摄的被拘留者的照片。

    在进行检测的当天,内务部长发表新闻稿,她在其中宣布警察的行动是政府"与社会病态现象做斗争和消除街道卖淫"的一部分。部长还说,已经进行的检测是为了查明"被捕的妓女"是否故意传播传染病,那些检测为阳性者会面临刑事指控。

    12月3日,内务部长举行新闻发布会,称7名被拘留的妇女检测为丙肝病毒(HCV)阳性,她们现在面临涉嫌"传播传染病"(1)的刑事指控。到目前为止,内务部长在这一问题上只使用模糊的"涉嫌"一词,并且声称医学检查会证实或否定这些嫌疑。到目前为止,根据马其顿法律要求,警察和检察官没有透露支持传播指控的证据。

 

人权与公共健康担忧

    按照我们的观点,警方、部长和贵国政府的行动侵犯了受到国际法保护的人权。他们还与合理、合乎道德的公共健康实践背道而驰,可能会起到破坏保护和促进公共健康的工作的作用。

    为进行强制医疗程序——包括HIV和HCV检测——而拘留人,侵犯了《公民权利和政治权利国际公约》(第9条)和《欧洲人权公约》(第5条)所保障的人身安全的权利。强迫检测还侵犯了身体的完整性和自主性。联合国的专家卫生机构已经肯定,HIV检测只应在有知情同意的情况下进行,这意味着检测必须既是知情的也是自愿的;此外,检测应该伴随着测前测后咨询,检测结果应该保密。(2)

    警方和政府的行动还侵犯了被拘留者的隐私权。《公民权利和政治权利国际公约》(第17条)禁止任意干涉个人隐私。作为获得可能达到的最高健康水平的权利的一部分,《经济、社会和文化权利国际公约》(第12条)保障对个人健康信息的保密。《欧洲人权公约》(第8条)保障隐私和家庭生活受到尊重的权利,此外还禁止任何公权力干涉这一权利,除非是民主社会中为实现保护健康或保护他人的权利和自由等目标所必需。《马其顿共和国宪法》保障对个人和家庭生活以及个人尊严的尊重和保护(第25条),此外还保障个人信息的秘密,并宣称:"通过数据处理来保护公民免遭任何源于个人信息登记的对其个人尊严的侵犯"(第18条)。

    强制对某人进行HIV或HCV检测既侵犯了身体的完整性,也侵犯了隐私。通过新闻发布会透露被警方拘留者中有些人检测为HCV阳性——其医疗信息应该保密——涉及了所有被拘留者和身份被媒体播出者,使这些性工作者和其他人暴露在可能的暴力之下。这种对隐私的过度侵犯不会对任何正当目标有帮助。

    此外,《公民权利和政治权利国际公约》(第7条)和《欧洲人权公约》(第3条)禁止国家及其官员卷入不人道或有辱人格的待遇或处罚,联合国《禁止酷刑和其它残忍、不人道或有辱人格的待遇或处罚公约》(第16条)也是这样。这些禁令不仅包括会导致身体痛苦的行为,还包括会导致受害者精神痛苦的行为。(3)《马其顿共和国宪法》还保障身体和道德尊严的权利,禁止任何形式的酷刑或不人道或有辱人格的行为或处罚(第11条)。在本案中,警方和政府的行为——包括在被拘留的妇女被迫接受HIV和HCV检测时允许媒体拍摄——不仅故意造成了精神痛苦,而且其目的只能是羞辱她们。在这一点上,它构成了有辱人格的待遇或处罚。

    在某些情况下,包括在追求公共健康目标时,对《公民权利和政治权利国际公约》和《欧洲人权公约》所保护的某些人权进行限制可能是允许的。(不允许对免于不人道或有辱人格的待遇或处罚的权利进行限制,该权利是"不可减损"的。)但是这种限制不能是任意的、无理的或歧视性的。此外,它们必须是为了应对"迫切的公共和社会需要",追求"正当目的",并且与目的相称。(4)很难看出大逮捕、强制检测和播出性工作者的身份是为了应对任何迫切的公共需要,或这些对人权的侵犯可以被视为为正当目的服务或与实现这种目的相称。

    我们还担忧,由于强制HCV检测,按照《马其顿刑法》第205条,七名被逮捕的妇女现在面临"传播传染病"的刑事指控。根据12月3日内务部长的新闻发布会,对性工作者嫌疑人的指控的基础是:丙肝病毒是"通过性交、接触感染者的血液或分泌物传播的传染病"。但是HCV很少在精液和阴道分泌物中检出,多数专家认为丙肝性传播的风险很低。(5)因此它一般不被认为是性传播传染病。此外,迄今为止检察官和警方尚未找到任何指出在与那些由于涉嫌卷入性工作而被捕的人有关的环境中实际发生丙肝传播的证据。根据以上信息,这种刑事指控似乎是没有根据的。相反,这些妇女成为刑事起诉的对象似乎仅仅因为她们有HCV(这明显是违反国际法的基于"健康状况"的歧视)或她们是性工作者(违反国际法中反歧视的核心原则)。

    报告指出,那些被拘留者面临卷入卖淫的刑事指控。认为性工作者是犯罪会助长对性工作者的暴力、歧视和其他人权虐待,包括由警察进行的这些虐待,尤其是如果警察对性工作者进行虐待却不受惩罚的话。国际健康机构和人权机构已经承认:认为性工作者是犯罪会迫使性工作转入地下,限制他们对工作条件和顾客的选择,因此会增加他们感染HIV和其他性传播传染病的风险。联合国人权事务高级专员办事处和联合国艾滋病规划署已经在《艾滋病与人权国际指南》(International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights)中指出了这一点,它们在该文件中建议各国政府:

    关于没有受害者的成人性工作,应该以去罪化为目标审核刑法,然后依法管理职业健康和安全条件以保护性工作者及其顾客,包括支持性工作时的安全性行为。刑法不应阻碍向性工作者及其顾客提供HIV预防和保健服务。(6)

    所有人——包括性工作者——都有权享有基本人权,包括表达自由和结社自由权(《公民权利和政治权利国际公约》,第19和22条),以及获得可能达到的最高健康水平与获得安全和健康的工作条件的权利(《经济、社会和文化权利国际公约》,第6、7和12条)。《马其顿共和国宪法》承认其中许多权利,还进一步保证马其顿人"平等享有自由和权利,无论性别、种族、肤色、国家和社会出身、政治和宗教信念、财产和社会地位如何"(第9条)。

    最近的镇压和警方强迫HIV和HCV检测事件发生在暴力对待性工作者(包括警察暴力和敲诈勒索)和性工作者不能平等获得警察保护的背景之中。在中东欧和中亚性工作者倡导网(Sex Workers' Advocacy Network of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia,SWAN)最近所做的研究中,马其顿性工作者报告了很高比例的由警察和普通公众成员进行的暴力行为。(7)该研究访问过的性工作者中无人感到将来如果受到威胁或攻击,他们可以寻求警方的帮助:所有受访者都报告说害怕被警察虐待,多数人报告说害怕去找警察会让自己处于更加危险的境地或被逮捕。内务部长反复提到性工作者是"社会病态现象"的一部分和疾病携带者这件事只会助长对性工作者的普遍污名化和妖魔化,造成一种只会鼓励进一步的暴力和虐待的氛围。此外,警方把性工作者当作目标,以许多方式造成了他们感染HIV的风险较高,例如如果安全套会被用做支持卖淫指控的证据,就会使性工作者不愿携带安全套,迫使性工作者与顾客匆忙协商,这会导致不安全性行为,或者迫使性工作者为支付罚款或应付警察的敲诈勒索而接受顾客所要求的不安全性行为。

    我们理解马其顿政府对其公民的健康和幸福的关心。但在本案中,警方和内务部的行动——大逮捕、警察虐待、强迫医学检查、侵犯隐私和刑事起诉——不仅破坏了性工作者的基本人权,还通过妨碍HIV和HCV自愿检测、增加对那些对性传播传染病最脆弱者的污名和歧视破坏了公共健康目标。

 

现在需要采取的行动

    因此,我们呼吁马其顿政府:

    ·停止强迫公民接受检测的行为,确保将来所有性传播传染病检测中都包含知情同意、测前测后咨询和检测结果保密;

    ·确保对所有被捕的性工作者进行测后咨询,让需要者能够获得所需的医疗保健;

    ·调查最近的逮捕的原因、程序和结果,包括泄露保密健康信息和让被拘留者受到有辱人格的待遇的警察行动,以及明显毫无根据的涉及"传播传染病"的刑事指控;

    ·确保所有被捕性工作者——包括不再被警方关押的性工作者——的人身安全;

    ·一直确保对性工作者实施暴力或虐待——包括由警察实施的暴力或虐待——的事件得到积极的调查,犯罪者受到适当的制裁;

    ·根据认为性工作者是犯罪既破坏健康也破坏人权的证据,重新审核有关法律。

 

真诚的

[姓名、职务、组织/协会]

 
Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2008 23:11:26 -0800
From: apnsw@yahoo.com
Subject: Fw: URGENT Fwd: CALL FOR ENDORSEMENTS: Letter denouncing recent police raids against alleged sex workers in Macedonia
To: bapamma@yahoo.com; sulastreeariffin@yahoo.com; badgirls@empowerfoundation.org; surangjanyam@yahoo.com; huab2007@gmail.com; hazera_1971@yahoo.com; treeraju@yahoo.com; hansbillimoria@gmail.com; ship@cal.vsnl.net.in; pisey@womynsagenda.org; swash@kitty.jp; ros_sokunthy@yahoo.com; sara00729@yahoo.com; tengnaiheng@yahoo.com; zolita2000@yahoo.com; kunminggoodgayguy@yahoo.com.cn; wanyanhai@gmail.com; zhaolu1979@hotmail.com; afro@iohk.com; midnbhk@yahoo.com.hk; jcchangtw@yahoo.com.tw; ziteng@hkstar.com; srikandisejati_foundation@yahoo.com; patrickiyp2004@yahoo.com; syusmar@yahoo.com; man_ohara@yahoo.com; hanamarie.knight@gmail.com; subendhakal@yahoo.com; cspsb@yahoo.com; shale@bandhu-bd.org; rani.ravudi@gmail.com; elena.jeffreys@gmail.com; ms.kthi@gmail.com; laxmirakasha@yahoo.co.in
CC: apnsw@yahoo.com

Dear APNSW members, eupporters and friends,
 
Please sign onto the letter and send.
 
Let us show our support, solidarity and unity.
 
Sincerely'
 
Khartini Slamah
Coordinator
APNSW

----- Forwarded Message ----
 
Begin forwarded message:

From: "Marija Tosheva" <marijat@hops.org.mk>
Date: December 15, 2008 5:42:48 PM GMT+07:00
Subject: FW: CALL FOR ENDORSEMENTS: Letter denouncing recent police raids against alleged sex workers in Macedonia

 
 
From: Sandra KH. Chu [mailto:schu@aidslaw.ca] 
Sent: Friday, December 12, 2008 10:59 PM
To: Richard Elliott; Marija Tosheva; Anna-Louise Crago; Global Working Group on HIV and Sex Work Policy
Cc: Aliya Rakhmetova; Rachel Thomas; Rebecca Schleifer
Subject: CALL FOR ENDORSEMENTS: Letter denouncing recent police raids against alleged sex workers in Macedonia
 
Dear friends and colleagues,
 
Please sign on to and circulate the letter below (also attached) to the Macedonian Minister of the Interior, the Vice Minister of the Interior and Chief of Sector for Internal Control, the Minister of Health and Ombudsman denouncing recent police raids against alleged sex workers in Macedonia. 
 
Background
On November 20, 2008, police executed a large-scale raid targeting a sex work zone in Skopje, arresting more than 30 people, the majority of them alleged to be sex workers, and detaining them overnight on grounds such as suspicion of "involvement of prostitution".  The following day, those detainees accused of being sex workers were subjected to compulsory testing by police for HIV and hepatitis B and C.  Media outlets subsequently published and broadcast photos of the women as well as information that they had been arrested for "involvement in prostitution".  The Ministry of the Interior also published on its website pictures of the detained women that had been taken at the police station.  On December 3, the Ministry of the Interior issued a press release stating that 7 of the detained women tested positive for hepatitis C virus and are now facing criminal charges for allegedly "transmitting an infectious disease".  To date, police and prosecutors have not disclosed evidence that would support the allegation of any transmission, as is required by Macedonian law.
 
Ministers of the Government of Macedonia have reportedly defended police conduct that violates a range of human rights — and in the course of doing so, have misguidedly invoked public health arguments and deliberately contributed to a climate of intolerance that will only heighten the risk of further violations, including violence, against sex workers.
 
Please join us in denouncing these actions by endorsing the letter.  Send your name, position and organization/affiliation by Tuesday, December 16, toschu@aidslaw.ca.  This letter will be sent on Wednesday, December 17, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.    
 
Please also let your contacts in your networks and media know about this letter and promote the global voices standing in solidarity with the women who have been arrested in Macedonia.  
 
In addition to endorsing this letter, we encourage you to send your own direct communications of concern to:
 
Mrs. Gordana Jankuloska, Minister of Interior: kontakt@moi.gov.mk

Mrs. Aneta Stancevska, Sector for Internal Control within MoI
Fax: +389 2 3112 468

Mr, Idzet Memeti, Ombudsman contact@ombudsman.mk
Fax: +389 2 3129 359

Mr, Bujar Osmani, Minister of Health: e-mail: bujar.osmani@zdravstvo.gov.mk,
Fax: +389 2 3113 014
 
* * * * *
 
DRAFT
 
Open letter to the Government of Macedonia regarding the detention, compulsory medical testing and criminal prosecution of
alleged sex workers in November 2008
 
Release date: December 17, 2008
 
Mrs. Gordana Jankuloska, Minister of the Interior
Mrs. Aneta Stancevska, Vice Minister of the Interior and Chief of Sector for Internal Control
Mr. Bujar Osmani, Minister of Health
Mr. Idzet Memeti, Ombudsman
 
Dear Ministers and Ombudsman:
 
On this day, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, the undersigned, supporters and representatives of sex workers and organizations and individuals advocating for human rights, strongly condemn police actions in relation to the recent mass arrest of alleged sex workers in Skopje, Macedonia.  We are also deeply concerned by reports that ministers of the Government of Macedonia have defended police conduct that violates a range of human rights — and in the course of doing so, have misguidedly invoked public health arguments and deliberately contributed to a climate of intolerance that will only heighten the risk of further violations, including violence, against sex workers.
 
Background
On the night of November 20, 2008, police from the "Bit Pazar" police station, the "Alfa" special mobile police unit and the local branch office of the Ministry of the Interior executed a large-scale raid targeting a well-known sex work zone in Skopje, arresting more than 30 people (the majority of them women alleged to be sex workers) and detaining them overnight on grounds such as suspicion of "involvement of prostitution" (a misdemeanor).
 
The following day, those detainees accused of being sex workers were subjected to compulsory testing by police for HIV and hepatitis B and C.  Having obviously learned of this plan, representatives from several media outlets were present at the University Clinic for Infectious Diseases when the women were taken for testing.  Media outlets subsequently published and broadcast photos of the women being escorted from police vans into the clinic, as well as information that they had been arrested for "involvement in prostitution" and about the streets where the raid took place.  The Ministry of the Interior published on its website pictures of the detainees that had been taken at the police station.
 
The same day the tests were carried out, the Minister of the Interior issued a press statement in which she declared the police action was part of the government's "fight against a socio-pathological phenomenon in society and to eliminate street prostitution."  The Minister also stated the testing had been done to find out if the "arrested prostitutes" were purposefully spreading infectious diseases, and that those who tested positive would face criminal charges.
 
On December 3rd, the Ministry of the Interior issued a press release stating that 7 of the detained women have tested positive for hepatitis C virus (HCV) and are now facing criminal charges for allegedly "transmitting an infectious disease".1  To date, the Ministry of the Interior has simply referred to vague "suspicions" in this regard, and has claimed that medical testing would confirm or repudiate these suspicions.  To date, police and prosecutors have not disclosed evidence that would support the allegation of any transmission, as is required by Macedonian law.
 
Human rights and public health concerns
In our view, the actions of the police, and of the Minister and your Government, violate human rights protected under international law.  They also are inconsistent with sound, ethical public health practice and will likely serve to undermine efforts to protect and promote public health.
 
Detaining individuals in order to conduct forced medical procedures, including testing for HIV and HCV, violates the right to security of the person, a right guaranteed under both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 9) and the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 5).  Forcible testing is also a violation of bodily integrity and autonomy. The UN's expert health agencies have affirmed that HIV testing should only be done with informed consent, meaning testing must be both informed and voluntary; furthermore, testing should be accompanied by pre- and post-test counselling and the confidentiality of test results should be guaranteed.2
  
The conduct of police and the government has also violated the right to privacy of those detained.  The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 17) prohibits arbitrary interference with a person's privacy.  The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 12) guarantees protection of the confidentiality of personal health information, as part of the right to the highest attainable standard of health.  The European Convention on Human Rights (Article 8)  guarantees the right to respect for private and family life, and further prohibits any public authority from interfering with this right except as is necessary in a democratic society in order to achieve such objectives as protection of health or protection of the rights and freedoms of others.  The Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia guarantees the respect and protection of personal and family life and a person's dignity (Article 25), and further guarantees the confidentiality of personal information and declares that "citizens are guaranteed protection from any violation of their personal integrity deriving from the registration of personal information through data processing" (Article 18).
  
Forcibly testing someone for HIV or HCV is a violation of both bodily integrity and privacy.  Disclosing by press release that some of those detained by police have tested HCV-positive, which medical information should be held confidential, implicates all those who were detained and whose identities were broadcast by the media, and exposes those sex workers and others to potential violence.  Such excessive invasions of privacy serve no legitimate objective.
  
Furthermore, both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 7) and the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 3) prohibit the state and its officials from engaging in inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as does the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Article 16).  These prohibitions encompass not only acts that cause physical pain, but also those that cause mental suffering to the victim.3  The Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia also guarantees the right to physical and moral dignity and prohibits any form of torture or inhuman or humiliating conduct or punishment (Article 11).  The conduct of police and the government in this case, including allowing the media to film the detained women while being forced to undergo HIV and HCV testing, not only intentionally inflicted mental suffering but could only have been aimed at humiliating them.  As such, it constitutes degrading treatment and punishment.
 
Limits on some human rights protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rightsmay be permitted in some cases, including in pursuit of public health objectives.  (There is no permissible limitation on the right to be free from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; this right is "non-derogable".)  However, any such limitations may not be arbitrary, unreasonable, or discriminatory.  Furthermore, they must respond to a "pressing public or social need", pursue a "legitimate aim" and be proportionate to that aim.4  It is difficult to see how mass arrest, forcible testing and broadcasting the identities of sex workers responds to any pressing public need, or that these infringements of human rights could be seen to serve a legitimate aim or be proportional in achieving any such aim.
 
We are further concerned that, as a result of the forced HCV testing, seven of the women arrested now face criminal charges of "transmission of an infectious disease" pursuant to Article 205 of Macedonia's Criminal Code.  According to the December 3rd press release from the Ministry of the Interior, the basis for the charges against the alleged sex workers is that the hepatitis C virus is "an infective disease which is transmitted by sexual intercourse, via blood or secretion contact with the infected person."  However, HCV has rarely been detected in semen and vaginal fluids and most experts believe the risk of sexual transmission of hepatitis C is low.5  Therefore, it is not generally considered a sexually transmitted infection.  Moreover, so far prosecutors and police have not identified any evidence suggesting that actual transmission of hepatitis C occurred in a circumstance involving any of those arrested on suspicion of involvement in sex work.  In light of the above information, there appears to be no basis for such criminal charges.  Rather, it appears that these women are being targeted for criminal prosecution simply because they have HCV (which is clearly discrimination based on 'health status' contrary to international law) or because they are sex workers (contrary to the principle of anti-discrimination central to international law).
 
Reports indicate those detained face criminal charges for involvement in prostitution.  Criminalizing sex workers also fuels violence, discrimination and other human rights abuses against sex workers, including by police, particularly if police enjoy impunity for abuses against sex workers.  International health and human rights bodies have acknowledged that criminalizing sex workers can increase their risks of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by driving sex work underground and limiting the choice of working conditions and the choice of clients.  This has been noted by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNAIDS in the International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, in which they recommend to governments that,
 
[w]ith regard to adult sex work that involves no victimization, criminal law should be reviewed with the aim of decriminalizing, then legally regulating occupational health and safety conditions to protect sex workers and their clients, including support for safe sex during sex work. Criminal law should not impede provision of HIV prevention and care services to sex workers and their clients.6 
 
All people, including sex workers, are entitled to their basic human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and association (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 19 and 22) and the rights to the highest attainable standard of health and to safe and healthy working conditions (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Articles 6, 7 and 12).  The Constitution of the Republic of Macedoniarecognizes a number of these rights and further stipulates that Macedonians "are equal in their freedoms and rights, regardless of sex, race, colour of skin, national and social origin, political and religious beliefs, property and social status" (Article 9).
 
This latest crackdown and incident of forced HIV and HCV testing by police is occurring in a context of violence against sex workers (including police violence and extortion) and their unequal access to police protection.  In recent research conducted by the Sex Workers' Advocacy Network of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (SWAN), sex workers in Macedonia reported extremely high rates of violence by both police and members of the general public.7  None of the sex workers interviewed in that study felt they could seek police help in future if they were being threatened or assaulted:  all of those interviewed reported a fear of being mistreated by police and a majority reported a fear that going to police would put them in worse danger or lead to their arrest.  The fact that the Minister of the Interior repeatedly referred to sex workers as part of a "socio-pathological phenomena" and as disease carriers only fuels the widespread stigmatization and demonization of sex workers, contributing to a climate that only encourages further violence and abuse.  Furthermore, police targeting of sex workers contributes to higher HIV risk in many ways, such as making sex workers reluctant to carry condoms if these will be used as evidence to support prostitution charges, forcing sex workers to rush negotiations with clients which can lead to unsafe sex, or compelling sex workers to accept unsafe sex demanded by clients in order to pay off fines or respond to police extortion.
 
We understand the Macedonian Government's concern for the health and well-being of its citizens.  Yet the actions of police and the Ministry of the Interior in this case — mass arrests, abusive policing, forced medical testing, violations of privacy and criminal prosecutions — undermine not only sex workers' basic human rights but also public health objectives, by impeding voluntary testing for HIV and HCV and by increasing stigma and discrimination against those most vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections.
 
Action needed now
Therefore, we call upon the Macedonian Government to:
 
§  stop forced testing of its citizens and ensure all future testing for sexually transmitted infections involves informed consent, pre- and post-test counselling, and guaranteed confidentiality of test results;
 
§  ensure post-test counselling for all the arrested sex workers, and access to necessary medical care for those who need it;
 
§  investigate the causes, procedures and consequences of these latest arrests, including the police action exposing confidential health information and subjecting detainees to degrading treatment, as well as the apparently unfounded basis for the criminal charges related to the "transmission of an infectious disease";
 
§  ensure the physical safety of the arrested sex workers, including those who no longer remain in the custody of the police;
 
§  ensure, on an ongoing basis, that incidents of violence or mistreatment of sex workers, including by police, are actively investigated and the perpetrators sanctioned appropriately; and
 
§  re-examine laws relating to the criminalization of sex workers, in light of the evidence that such criminalization undermines both health and human rights.
 
Sincerely,
 
[name, position, organization/affiliation]
 
 
Footnotes
1 Ministry of the Interior, "After the 'street prostitution' action, the hepatitis C virus found in seven persons,"  News release, December 3, 2008, online:www.mvr.gov.mk/ShowAnnouncements.aspx?ItemID=6272&mid=1367&tabId=1&tabindex=0.
2 UNAIDS/WHO Policy Statement on HIV Testing, June 2004, online: www.who.int/rpc/research_ethics/hivtestingpolicy_en_pdf.pdf.
3 UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment 20: Article 7 (prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment), 1992.
4 UN Economic and Social Council, "Siracusa Principles on the Limitation and Derogation Provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," UN Doc. E/CN.4/1985/4, Annex (1985).
5 E.g., U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Infection and HCV-Related Chronic Disease,"Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (Recommendations and Reports) 1998; 47; No. RR-19; World Health Organization, "Hepatitis C," Fact Sheet No. 164 (2004).
6 Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNAIDS, International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, consolidated version, 2006, para 8(c).
7 Sex Workers' Advocacy Network of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Mapping Police Violence, report forthcoming 2009.
 

 

 
 

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