Uganda Lawmakers Drafting Bill That Seeks Death Penalty for HIV-Positive People Who Perform Sexual Acts With Minors
Ugandan lawmakers are drafting a bill that if passed would seek the death penalty for HIV-positive people who perform sexual acts with minors with or without consent, South Africa's Mail and Guardian reports. Elioda Tumwesigye, chair of the parliamentary committee on HIV/AIDS, in August said if the bill is passed, HIV-positive people who perform sexual acts with people under age 18 would face a felony charge called "aggravated defilement" and will be executed if convicted. Some human rights groups in the country say the bill is "off target," adding that instead of emphasizing capital punishment, more effort go toward increasing HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns, the Mail and Guardian reports. According to the Mail and Guardian, under current Ugandan law, people who are found guilty of rape and defilement can be sentenced to death, but judges can choose to give an offender a lesser sentence and no one to date has been sentenced to death for the crime. Some groups opposed to the bill worry that if capital punishment becomes mandatory, the problem will be driven underground. Livingstone Sewanyana, executive director of Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, said, "When you subscribe to the death penalty, you give an unacceptable excuse to the state to forfeit or forget its cardinal function of maintaining law and order." He added, "For a state whose duty is to protect, to put emphasis on executing citizens ... would be abdicating its responsibility" to ensure crime prevention and child protection. Ugandan lawmakers in the coming parliamentary session will debate whether to make the death penalty mandatory and also will discuss whether HIV-positive people who rape children should be given the same punishment as those who rape teenagers, the Mail and Guardian reports (Matsamura, Mail and Guardian, 9/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.