Kenyan President Seeks Death Penalty for Those Who Knowingly Transmit HIV
Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has "demanded" that people who "knowingly" transmit HIV to others receive the death penalty, Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/2). Moi's proposal that those who knowingly infect others with the virus be hanged drew "mixed reactions" from women's groups and church leaders. The Federation of Women Lawyers called on Attorney General Amos Wako to "incorporate" the proposal into the 2000 Criminal Law Amendment Bill, along with "stiffer" penalties for rapists and "'adequate' legal deterrents for potential rapists." Executive Director Jane Kiragu called the president's proposal "timely," adding that it gives "renewed momentum" to the nation's fight against HIV/AIDS. However, Dr. Newton Kulundu, chair of the parliamentary committee on health, "cautioned" that although the president's "apparent enthusiasm in protecting people against HIV/AIDS is welcome," it could lead to the "victimiz[ation] of innocent people." Kulundu explained that with regard to HIV transmission, "it becomes very difficult to scientifically prove who infects the other." Religious leaders objected to Moi's plan, citing religious opposition to capital punishment. Bishop John Njue, chair of the Kenya Episcopal Conference, said, "Hanging is not a solution. People should be encouraged to lead conscientious lives," adding that people should "respect the dignity of others." Njue said that the church opposes all forms of capital punishment. The proposal came after the opposition Forum for Restoration of Democracy called on Moi to be "more vigilant" in the fight against HIV/AIDS and asked that he "intervene and insure speedy disbursement" of funding for "grasssroots" campaigns against the disease (BBC Monitoring/Daily Nation, 7/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.