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SOUTH AFRICA: Better handling of HIV-positive inmates urged

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 13 October (PLUSNEWS) - South Africa's Inspecting Judge of Prisons, Johannes Fagan, has called for changes in the handling of terminally ill prisoners, including those living with HIV/AIDS.

Fagan recently reported to Parliament that inmate deaths from natural causes, including AIDS, were spiralling out of control, having surged more than 700 percent in the past nine years.

The local Business Day newspaper quoted him as saying, "Deaths in prisons should be avoided where possible by the use of provisions in the act, which allow for a terminally ill prisoner to be placed out on medical parole with conditions. In 2004 only 4.5 percent of ill prisoners were placed on such medical parole; this is lower than the 23 percent in 1996."

The judge noted that under the 'minimum sentencing' regime, prisoners were expected to serve at least 80 percent of their sentence before going before the parole board, which was "simply wrong".

In 1996, 211 prisoners died of natural causes, but this had risen to 1,689 so far this year. Deaths from unnatural causes had remained largely constant at about 70 annually.



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· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance

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