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Immigration Control Act Discriminatory to People Living with HIV

For Immediate Release
05 February 2010

WINDHOEK - Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) is calling for a section of the Immigration Control Act to be scrapped immediately as it unfairly discriminates against people living with HIV who are entering Namibia.

The organisation is expressing serious concern with questions on Ministry of Home Affairs visa application that require applicants to state whether they are suffering from the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) virus.

According to section 13 of the Immigration Control Act of 1993 any person who enters or has entered or is in Namibia shall be a prohibited immigrant if “such person is infected or afflicted with contagious disease or is a carrier of such a virus or disease as may be prescribed.”

LAC and the AIDS Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) submitted a letter to the Hon. R. Nghidinwa in May 2009 regarding the issue.

According to Norman Tjombe, Director of the LAC, the Namibia National Policy of HIV/AIDS (2007) recognizes in its statements that an effective response to HIV/AIDS requires respect for protection and fulfillment of all human, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The policy states that all people are guaranteed freedom from discrimination on the grounds of colour, sex, religion, race, political, nationality, ethnic or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status, including HIV status.

“The right to equality and non-discrimination is in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Namibia and existing international human rights principles and agreements,” Tjombe states.

LAC is adamant that the provision of Immigration Control Act the promotion and its regulations that prohibit entry on the basis of HIV status alone are in conflict with the constitution of the republic of Namibia.

“The fact that these discrimination provision of the immigration Control Regulation are still in force in Namibia is of a major concern” says Amon Ngavetene, coordinator of the AIDS Law Unit of the LAC.

The republic of Namibia is a member state of the United Nations and has ratified a number of international instruments including the 2001 UNGASS Declaration of commitments to take steps to prevent discrimination on the basis of HIV status and to remove laws that act as barriers in the response to HIV.

The USA lifted a ban in 2009 on people living with HIV/AIDS to enter the US. The ban had been in place for 22 years before President Barack Obama’s administration issued the removal of the discriminatory law.  

For more information, please contact:
Legal Assistance Centre
4 Korner Street, Windhoek
tel: 061-223-356

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