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Monday, 2 July, 2001, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Kenya ponders HIV hanging call
Aids patient
Millions of people are living with Aids in Africa
A recent call by President Daniel arap Moi for those who knowingly infect others with HIV to be hanged is prompting a huge debate in Kenya.

Several groups including religious figures have cautioned against capital punishment, but others including the Federation of Women Lawyers (Kenya) have come out in favour of President Moi's suggestion


The time has come for those who deliberately infect others to die and those who rape to get life

President Moi
Speaking at the weekend after a landmark UN summit on Aids in New York, President Moi also suggested that rapists should get life imprisonment.

"We have to make laws that restrict those who deliberately infect others because young girls cannot protect themselves from such criminals," he said.

"The time has come for those who deliberately infect others to die and those who rape to get life," the Sunday Nation newspaper quoted the president as saying.

Debate

About 2.2 million of Kenya's estimated 30 million people are HIV positive, but research indicates that infection rates among young African women are higher than for males, partly due to their vulnerability to older men who use their dominant status in society to pressure them into unprotected sex.

President Daniel arap Moi
Moi declared Aids a national disaster in October 1999
Anglican Archbishop David Gitari said that the president had opened an interesting debate but said he believed that hanging was not the answer.

He also said that it would also be difficult to know those who spread HIV deliberately.

Bishop John Njue, chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference, said: "Hanging is not a solution. People should be encouraged to lead conscientious lives."

And while the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) welcomed President Moi's suggestion of stiff penalties, secretary general Sheikh Mohamed Dor said that Muslims would not support hanging.

"We instead support life imprisonment for both rapists and people deliberately infecting others with Aids."

President Moi said a review of Kenya's laws would take place.

The chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Dr Newton Kulundu, said: "The president's apparant enthusiasm in protecting people against HIV/Aids is welcome. However, it must be borne in mind that when it comes to HIV transmission, it becomes very difficult to scientifically prove who infects the other.''

He also warned that there was a danger of innocent people being victimised as a result.

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See also:

25 Jun 01 | Africa
Kenya accused over Aids orphans
19 Apr 01 | Africa
SA victory in Aids drugs case
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