Regional consultation in Kyiv discussed the role of police in HIV responses
17- 18 October, Kyiv. The First Regional Consultation on Enhancing the Role of Law Enforcement in Planning and Implementation of National Responses to HIV/AIDS Epidemics in Central Asia and Eastern Europe took place in Kyiv.
The event, gathering law enforcement, public health and civil society representatives from Ukraine, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, was the result of joint efforts of UNODC and the Law Enforcement and HIV Network (LEAHN), organised in cooperation with USAID, Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP), UNAIDS, Open Society Institute, AIDS Foundation East -West (AFEW) and other partners.
Aiming for the greater involvement of law enforcement in the planning and implementation of the national HIV responses, the two-day meeting was characterized by a genuine, cooperative and dynamic dialogue and determination to achieve concrete results after the consultation.
To enhance the role of law enforcement in HIV prevention, it became clear to the delegates that a sharp shift in the mindset of police was needed. Currently, law enforcement success indicators are based the number of arrests made by officers, yet if structural interventions and the provision of comprehensive care, treatment and support services for most-at-risk populations were at the heart of the response, the possible gains would be greater and more sustainable, resulting in lives being saved.
In order to stimulate such shift, the participants called for HIV trainings and awareness raising sessions. Firstly, such activities should be included in the training academy curriculums to provide all cadets correct information and appropriate tools to perform their duties. Secondly, it was proposed that serving police officers also access HIV training opportunities. Ideally these would be provided by other fellow officers who can deliver convincing, meaningful and explicit messages in the context of their day-to-day work. Moreover, to ensure further quality and impact, it was suggested that civil society and key- affected populations could be actively involved in the development, monitoring and evaluation of the training courses. The participants also proposed to organize study visits to centres providing comprehensive HIV services to demonstrate and convey how such services can positively influence the lives of vulnerable people.
All delegates agreed that in order to stem the spread of HIV in key-affected populations, countries needed rapid interventions and strong national stakeholder leadership, especially from the Ministry of Interior which is instrumental when it comes to providing directives and instructions to police services. This is the key in establishing linkages between law enforcement work and HIV and AIDS responses. In this context, Kyrgyzstan provided an example of how they successfully manage approaches from law enforcement, criminal justice, public health and civil society to complement each other. They reached out to delegates in offering to share their methodologies and manuals with other countries in the region.
Similar consultations are planned in the near future in order to follow-up on the progress made. In the meantime, delegates will engage in a virtual dialogue through the online Law Enforcement & HIV Network http://www.leahn.org/ and http://www.leahn.ru (for Russian speaking audience).
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This regional event was supported by the USAID-funded project entitled "Penitentiary, Law Enforcement and Drugs sectors Government Efficiency in HIV Response (HIV PLEDGE)"