Central Africa

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Angola

Angola adopted an HIV-specific law in 2004 that, in Sections 14 and 15, places obligations on people aware they are living with HIV to both disclose prior to sex and to use condoms during sex  (full text available at the Global Criminalisation Scan). The law also criminalises both ‘negligent’ and ‘intentional’ sexual transmission. It is unclear whether any of these provisions have been implemented because a 2008 news report regarding proposed changes to the Penal Code suggests that HIV transmission had not yet been criminalised. Changes to the Penal Code would criminalise ‘knowingly’ transmitting an infectious disease, including HIV.1 The proposed prison sentence is between three and ten years.

Cameroon

Section 20 of Cameroon's Penal Code, drafted in 2002, includes the criminalisation of ‘knowing’ sexual HIV transmission punished with a life sentence, and ‘knowing’ sexual HIV exposure punished with a maximum five years in prison and a million Cameroonian franc fine. It is unclear whether this law has been enacted.2 The only reported HIV-related prosecution took place in 2002 for deliberate injection.3 In this case, a woman was found guilty of premeditated murder by poisoning under Sections 276(1)(a) and (b) of the previous Penal Code and sentenced to death by firing squad.4

Central African Republic

It is believed that the Central African Republic enacted HIV-specific laws based on the AWARE-HIV/AIDS model law in 2006, but there are no further details regarding criminal provisions or prosecutions.5

Chad

Chad passed an HIV-specific law in 2007, based on the AWARE-HIV/AIDS model law, which requires the immediate notification of a spouse or other sexual partners when someone tests HIV-positive.6 Article 55 criminalises "any person" who "involuntarily transmits HIV" by "mistake, recklessness, carelessness, [or] negligence" with a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to one million Chad francs. Article 59 criminalises anyone diagnosed HIV-positive who has unprotected sex "in order to transmit" HIV with a maximum prison sentence of ten years. A life sentence applies in the "case of recurrence or rape". In addition, the same sentence applies to anyone "who knowingly engages in an activity causing the transmission of HIV to another person". There have been no reports of prosecutions.

Congo

Sections 44 and 45 of a draft Bill to Protect People Living with HIV/AIDS contains criminal provisions. The wording was changed following a workshop convened by civil society in 2009 in accordance with UNAIDS’ recommendations (highlighted in Chapter 2: Laws). This lists the circumstances in which criminal law cannot be applied, with criminal liability limited to “intentional and deliberate” HIV transmission. It is unknown whether this Bill has since been enacted.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo passed an HIV-specific law in 2008 based on the AWARE-HIV/AIDS model law  (relevant sections of the law can be found at the Global Criminalisation Scan). It requires the immediate notification of a spouse or other sexual partners when someone tests HIV-positive, and broadly and non-specifically criminalises “deliberate transmission of HIV/AIDS”. The maximum prison sentence is between five and six years and a 500,000 Congolese franc fine. There have been no reports of prosecutions.

Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea passed an HIV-specific law in 2006. Articles Six and Seven allow for the prosecution of diagnosed HIV-positive individuals for sexual HIV exposure and transmission if sex takes place in absence of a condom. Independent of any criminal liability, if transmission takes place, the guilty party must also "assume the obligation to support the newly infected party in all aspects of their life." There have been no reports of prosecutions.

References

  1. Afrik.com Intentional HIV infections in Angola raises heavy concerns. 30 May, 2008
  2. IRIN/Plus News Cameroon: whose responsibility is HIV transmission? 26 November, 2008
  3. Tribunal de Grande Instance de Nkongsamba Ministere Public et Noumen Theophile c Kinding Yango Huguette Judgement 113/crim, 25 June 2003
  4. Akonumbo AN HIV/AIDS Law and policy in Cameroon: overview and challenges African Human Rights Law Journal 6(1): 85-122, 2006
  5. Pearshouse R Legislation contagion: the spread of problematic new HIV laws in Western Africa. HIV/AIDS Policy & Law Review 12 (2/3), 2007
  6. Government of Chad Loi N°019/PR/2007 du 15 novembre 2007 portant lutte contre VIH/SIDA/IST et protection des Droits des Personnes On file with the author, 2007

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A writer and advocate on a range of HIV-related issues, Edwin has a particular specialism in HIV and the criminal law. He works with national and international HIV organisations, including the International AIDS Society, GNP+ and UNAIDS, as well having as a long association with NAM as a writer on this topic and as the former editor of HIV Treatment Update. To visit Edwin's blog and respond to posts click here.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.