07 August 2010

Extradition and a Fear of HIV...

There are many people out there in this big bad world of ours who fear being exposed to HIV and developing AIDS. This fear seems to be further intensified where a person is under threat of a prison term in a nation where HIV / AIDS is prevalent, or rampant, in the prison system where they would serve a sentence if convicted.

Adrian Kiki Ariawan, a convicted Indonesian felon, currently detained in Australia is fighting his pending extradition to Indonesia based on an argument that sending him back to a prison system where he may contract HIV is a breach of his human rights and a breach of prevailing international humanitarian law.

At this point, you might be shaking your head and saying, "what?" But, this is not as far-fetched as it sounds. And, more importantly the approach has been successfully argued in the Australian Federal Court in 2004. In de Bruyn vs. The Minister for Justice and Customs (FCAFC 2004), the Federal Court allowed the appeal of the lower court decision that granted the extradition.

The Federal Court also quashed the arrest warrant with the reasoning that the Minister had not given sufficient consideration to the humanitarian grounds associated with extraditing someone to a penal system where there is a risk of contracting HIV.

de Bruyn was fighting extradition to South Africa. The support for the petition included a number of articles that noted increased risks of HIV infection, particularly post-incarceration.

With respect to the risk, it would be interesting to see whether the Australian courts would consider a response from Indonesian authorities in the form of a guarantee that Ariawan would be jailed in isolation or only with other inmates of negative HIV status. This would presumably reduce and perhaps eliminate any risk of Ariawan contracting HIV while serving his sentence.

I am sure that serving the rest of your life in solitary confinement is most probably a breach of one's human rights, but if the fear is of contracting some disease whilst in prison then being separated from all other prisoners would seemingly resolve that fear, and it would be the choice of the convict themselves.

It must be noted that Australian prisons are not HIV-free nor are they violence-free, sexual or otherwise, although medical treatment is considerably better than what is available in the Indonesian penal system. It also needs to be noted that all prisoners in New South Wales are tested on entry into the system, usually three months after entry into the system and on release back into the community. As I remember it, tests can also be conducted at other times if thought warranted or if requested by the relevant authorities or the prisoners themselves.

I am going to have to do a little more reading on this subject, as I find it really interesting. It has not much to do with my life now that I have moved from lawyering work into teaching, but the legal stuff still remains a fascination (some might say an obsession) for me.

Ariawan has been sentenced to a life term for his role in the embezzling of Bank Liquidity funds offered to Bank Surya.

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