Human Rights Watch Report Says Kenya ‘Neglecting’ AIDS Orphans
The Kenyan government is "neglecting" millions of children affected by HIV/AIDS, about one million of them orphans, according to a report released yesterday by Human Rights Watch, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. The report, titled "In the Shadow of Death: HIV/AIDS and Children's Rights in Kenya," criticizes the Kenyan government for "failing to take responsibility" for children who are often "forced" to drop out of school in order to go to work to support themselves or to take care of sick family members (England, AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/25). Those jobs, sometimes including prostitution, are often "dangerous," the report said. The report, "timed to coincide" with the U.N. General Assembly's special session on HIV/AIDS, also accused President Daniel arap Moi and the entire Kenyan government of "not doing enough to stamp out the 'stigma' of HIV/AIDS," which the report said has made AIDS orphans "untouchables." Report author Joanne Csete said, "The rights of children have been the missing piece of the AIDS crisis. If their parents had died in any other way, these children would have been at the top of the agenda. But because their parents died of AIDS, with all of the stigma that implies, they're at the bottom" (Palmer, London Independent, 6/25). "If families are not there to help these children, then the state has the responsibility to provide protection," she added (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/25). In the report, HRW encouraged the Kenyan government to reform certain "cumbersome" legal processes that are "ill-suited to claimants who are minors" and to pass laws allowing orphans more access to such processes (Agence France-Presse, 6/25). The report "praised" the government" for its recent passage of the Intellectual Property Bill, which will allow the country to manufacture or import generic drugs in "times of emergency," and "urged" the government to ratify the International Labor Organization convention on "hazardous labor" for children (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/25).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.