DAA News Network

Rwanda Health Bill proposes sterilisation and compulsory testing of disabled people

Posted 05/7-09 at 22.42


Rwandan Parliament should remove provisions in a draft law that would mandate compulsory HIV testing and require the sterilization of all individuals with learning difficulties.

Human Rights Watch reported that these provisions, in a reproductive health bill in Rwanda, are deeply flawed and violate the government's obligations to uphold and protect human rights.

"Compulsory HIV testing and forced sterilization are counterproductive to the Rwandan government's goal of improved reproductive health," said Joe Amon, health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch. "Provisions in the current bill that increase stigma, rely on coercion, and deny individuals their reproductive rights should be removed."

In this reproductive health bill, drafted by the parliamentary committee whose duties include promoting social welfare, there are three particularly troublesome provisions related to HIV/AIDS testing.

  • First, it provides that all individuals who plan to marry must undergo HIV testing and provide a certificate beforehand.
  • Second, married individuals are required to be tested for HIV/AIDS upon the request of their spouses.
  • Third, if a physician finds it "necessary" for a child or an incapacitated person to be tested for HIV/AIDS, he or she may conduct the test without seeking consent and may show the result to the parent, guardian, or care provider.


Mandatory HIV testing and disclosure have been condemned by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the World Health Organization, and the UN's Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights as violations of the right to privacy and counterproductive to effective HIV/AIDS control.

Mandatory testing and compulsory disclosure can put women at increased risk of abuse and undermine public trust in the health care system.

Rwandan Government will be obliged under the proposed Bill "to suspend fertility for mentally handicapped people." Systematic, forced sterilization has been recognized as a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

In May 2008, Rwanda ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These laws on sterilization, including for disabled people, must respect both a person's right to bodily integrity and informed consent to medical procedures

Source:  Human Rights Watch




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