International cooperation of human rights defenders helped protect the right to health care

UHHRU’s Rivne-based legal aid center was contacted by Mrs. Sofiya*, mother of Ukrainian citizen Mykola * (* names changed for ethical reasons), who is being held at one of the penitentiary facilities in Belarus. Living with HIV, Mykola never received ART therapy in all his time in detention, and his health began to deteriorate. The mother, having no direct contact with her son, turned to one of Ukrainian consulates in Belarus for help with her son’s situation but did not get a clear answer.

Since UHHRU is a member of the Regional Legal Aid Network for People Living with HIV, which has united lawyers from many countries, UHHRU LAC lawyer Olena Romanova turned for assistance to one of the partner organizations in Belarus that helps people living with HIV.

In addition, in the interests of Mrs. Sofiya and on behalf of her son, the LAC sent a letter to the Consular Section of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the Consulate and Embassy of Ukraine in Belarus, and to the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, describing the situation and requesting urgent consideration.

A few days later came the Consulate’s reply, according to which a letter had been sent by the Belarusian penitentiary facility in confirmation that Mykola had finally been examined by a doctor and prescribed ART therapy. Mrs. Sofiya was also notified of the letter.

Thus, thanks to joint efforts of UHHRU and Belarusian partners, Mykola finally started receiving ART therapy and Mrs. Sofiya learned about her son’s health and the ways to file a request to have him transferred to Ukraine.

Legal aspects of the situation:

The Ministry of Healthcare of Belarus adopted a resolution approving the clinical protocol of 1 June 2017 entitled Diagnosis and Treatment of HIV-Infected Patients.

In accordance with clause 6.1 of this Protocol, ART therapy must be provided to all PLWH (universal access to ART therapy is in force as of 1 January 2018).

Full text of the Protocol

As for Ukrainian legislation, Article 3 of Ukraine’s Constitution states: “An individual, his life and health, honour and dignity, inviolability and security shall be recognised in Ukraine as the highest social value.”

Text: UHHRU Rivne-based LAC

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