Article

Legal responses to HIV and AIDS: lessons from Swaziland


Abstract

Since 1999, the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Swaziland has been declared a national disaster, and today HIV and AIDS still pose a great threat to the survival and development of Swaziland and its people. The impact of the pandemic necessitated a multi-faceted response from the government. This paper critically evaluates the Swaziland legal response to HIV and AIDS. The objective is to assess whether and to what extent Swazi law addresses human rights issues related to HIV and AIDS. Through the application of a human rights based theory, the paper analyses the domestication of Swaziland’s treaty commitments, and the constitutional and the statutory frameworks. The paper advances the importance of “law” as a tool that can create an enabling environment for a national response to HIV and AIDS. It analyses how the government has successfully crafted the normative framework so as to make it responsive to the fight against HIV and AIDS, and the shortcomings of the Swaziland legal system in this fight. The paper argues that even though a credible legal and policy environment is in place, some laws still need to be supplemented, reviewed and amended so that the legal system adequately addresses the human rights issues related to HIV and AIDS. The paper suggests improvements to the legal system which mainly relate to aligning the legal framework with the Constitution of Swaziland and international conventions to which Swaziland is party.

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