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Our Work

Our most recent posts are listed below. To learn more about a specific issue, select a topic under “Our Work” in the menu to the left.

For our publications on past topics, click on “Find Publications” and search by topic.


May 2022 April 2022 March 2022 February 2022 January 2022 December 2021 November 2021 October 2021 September 2021 August 2021 June 2021

May 2022

MEDIA RELEASE: TOWN OF NEWMARKET TARGETS AND SHUTS DOWN ASIAN MASSAGE BUSINESSES

TOWN OF NEWMARKET TARGETS AND SHUTS DOWN ASIAN MASSAGE BUSINESSES Groups calling on municipality to end the injustice and repeal new, racist by-law For immediate release May 5, 2022 – Toronto – A group of more than 50 allied organizations — as well as community members, activists, academics, and others — who are committed to human […]

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Submission to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent

In April 2022, the HIV Legal Network and the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation made this submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, focusing on systemic racism and human rights violations by law enforcement officers against Africans and people of African descent, in the context of Canada’s drug laws and policies. […]

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Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights: Review of Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

In April 2022, Sandra Ka Hon Chu, on behalf of the HIV Legal Network and the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, deputed at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights about Bill C-5, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The remarks focused on the section […]

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April 2022

Positive Women: The Films

In 2012, the Legal Network was fortunate to team up with filmmaker Alison Duke and four amazing women living with HIV in Canada on a project exploring the profound effects of criminalization on their lives. The result of this collaboration was Positive Women: Exposing Injustice (2012), a documentary film shown in Canada — and around the […]

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Failure of drug prohibition and criminalization to protect children

The HIV Legal Network, in collaboration with the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, made a submission on drugs and drug policy to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, as it reviewed Canada’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In the […]

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Letter to Ministers Bennett and Duclos re: Proposed cumulative threshold of 4.5 grams in BC

April 13, 2022 The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos Minister of Health cc: Hon. Sheila Malcolmson, B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Dear Ministers Bennett and Duclos: Re: Proposed cumulative threshold of 4.5 grams in BC We write […]

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10th Symposium Report – HIV Criminalization: Challenging Injustice in Canada and Around the World

On March 22, 2022, the HIV Legal Network hosted its 10th Symposium on HIV, Law, and Human Rights. This international event explores the relationship between HIV and human rights, how criminal laws can be reformed to uphold the rights of people living with HIV, and how those working in the sector can use their work […]

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March 2022

MEDIA ADVISORY: Intimate Conviction 2 Volume Launches in Dominica

LGBTQ RIGHTS AND THE CHURCH: Intimate Conviction 2 Volume Launches in Dominica Laws Criminalizing Consensual Same-Sex Intimacy Still Exist in More Than 60 Countries Worldwide For immediate release March 28, 2022 — Roseau, Dominica — On Tuesday, March 29, 2022, the launch of the Intimate Conviction 2: Continuing the Decriminalization Dialogue volume will be held in […]

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Prosecuting HIV-Related Criminal Cases in Canada: A Model Policy

Canada has been identified as a global hotspot of HIV-related prosecutions. As of 2022, there have been well over 200 prosecutions for alleged HIV non-disclosure in Canada. Canada’s use of the criminal law in relation to HIV has been recognized as overly broad and punitive by a wide range of stakeholders including the federal government, […]

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MEDIA ADVISORY: PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV, AND OTHER LEADING CANADIAN EXPERTS TO SPEAK AT 10th SYMPOSIUM ON HIV, LAW, AND HUMAN RIGHTS

PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV, AND OTHER LEADING CANADIAN EXPERTS TO SPEAK AT 10th SYMPOSIUM ON HIV, LAW, AND HUMAN RIGHTS  Media Invited to Join Virtual Sessions on HIV Criminalization in Canada  For immediate release Members of the media are invited to attend HIV Criminalization: Challenging Injustice in Canada and Around the World — a free, bilingual (English/French), […]

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Letter to Ministers Bennett and Duclos re: Threshold quantities in exemption requests

Today, the HIV Legal Network and 21 partner organizations sent a letter to Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, and Jean-Yves Duclos, federal Minister of Health, asking them to refrain from establishing and requiring threshold quantities of drugs in provincial and municipal requests for exemption from the Controlled […]

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HIV CRIMINALIZATION IN CANADA: KEY TRENDS AND PATTERNS (1989-2020)

In Canada, a person living with HIV can go to prison and be registered as a sex offender for life for not disclosing their HIV-positive status to a sexual partner in some circumstances. People are usually charged with (aggravated) sexual assault, due to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that HIV non-disclosure can sometimes amount […]

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Intimate Conviction 2 Volume Launches in Jamaica

LGBTQ RIGHTS AND THE CHURCH: Intimate Conviction 2 Volume Launches in Jamaica Laws Criminalizing Consensual Same-Sex Intimacy Still Exist in More Than 60 Countries Worldwide For immediate release March 7, 2022 — Kingston, Jamaica — On Wednesday, March 9, 2022, the launch of the Intimate Conviction 2: Continuing the Decriminalization Dialogue volume will be held in […]

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Intimate Conviction 2 Volume Launches in Barbados

LGBTQ RIGHTS AND THE CHURCH: Intimate Conviction 2 Volume Launches in Barbados Laws Criminalizing Consensual Same-Sex Intimacy Still Exist in More Than 60 Countries Worldwide For immediate release March 3, 2022 — Bridgetown, Barbados — On Monday, March 7, 2022, the launch of the Intimate Conviction 2: Continuing the Decriminalization Dialogue volume will be held in […]

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HIV Legal Network Statement on Ukraine Invasion by Russia

We are deeply shaken by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We are also compelled to speak up because this is an area of the world in which we at the HIV Legal Network work, a region where the HIV pandemic rages on.   The devastating occupation of Ukraine has enormous impacts on our work and […]

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February 2022

Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights: Review of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act

In February 2022, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights undertook a review of The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. The HIV Legal Network appeared before the Committee to describe how human rights violations against sex workers have escalated with the passage of the law, which has fueled stigma, […]

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Submission to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: HIV, Human Rights, and Drug Policy in Canada

SUBMISSION TO THE OFFICE OF THE UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: HIV, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND DRUG POLICY IN CANADA In 2021, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on “Human Rights in the context of HIV and AIDS” which calls on States to “end all inequalities and human rights violations and abuses faced by […]

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Submission to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Human Rights and HIV Criminalization

SUBMISSION TO THE OFFICE OF THE UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: HUMAN RIGHTS AND HIV CRIMINALIZATION In 2021, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on “Human Rights in the context of HIV and AIDS” which calls on States to “end all inequalities and human rights violations and abuses faced by persons living with, […]

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HIV, Human Rights, and Sex Work in Canada: Submission to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 47/17 entitled “Human rights in the context of HIV and AIDS”

A growing body of research confirms that the criminalization of any aspect of sex work, including the criminalization of clients, sex workers, and third parties in sex work, violates sex workers’ human rights and is in itself a social determinant of health by creating barriers to accessing health care services and building relationships with health […]

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Submission to the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

In response to the call for input from the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (to inform his presentation to the 50th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council), the HIV Legal Network makes this submission regarding human rights violations against LGBTQ+ people in the […]

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Report to the 134 Session of UN Human Rights Committee in relation to the review of the 8th Periodic Report of the Russian Federation

In its Concluding Observations of March 2015, the Committee recommended the Russian Federation take all the measures necessary to ensure that: (a) its policies vis-à-vis drug users deprived of their liberty fully conform to its obligation to effectively protect them against the pain and suffering associated with the withdrawal syndrome and that timely, adequate and […]

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Centering Health, Respecting Rights: Understanding the Science, Public Health, and Human Rights Implications of Policing in the Context of HIV and Hepatitis C

On February 8, 2022, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Centre for Public Safety and Well-Being and the HIV Legal Network hosted a webinar about the science, public health, and human rights implications of HIV and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) as it relates to the provision of policing services. In this webinar, we explored how police forces in […]

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Modest Win in Jamaica

For seven years, I have been in court fighting the Jamaican government and nine anti-gay religious groups for the right to kiss my partner. An 1864 British colonially imposed law makes acts of intimacy between men illegal, and my partner and I could be imprisoned for up to ten years at hard labour. Even worse, […]

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Report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: The implementation by Belarus of Article 12 (the right to health) with respect to people who use drugs and people living with HIV

This report is submitted by the HIV Legal Network and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association. The report is based on official statistics, information from open sources and communications with civil society activists in Belarus. In the country report, the Government of Belarus informed CESCR that all HIV prevention programmes recommended by WHO have been implemented in […]

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January 2022

Report to the International Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR): Right to health of people who use drugs and people living with HIV in Uzbekistan

This report is submitted by the HIV Legal Network and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association. The report is based on official statistics, information from the open sources, and communications with civil society activists in Uzbekistan. In 2014, the Committee noted the growing incidence of HIV and AIDS, particularly among people who inject drugs, and urged Uzbekistan […]

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The Life of a Foreign Agent: Risks and Perspectives on Operating in Russia as a Non-Profit Organization Designated as a Foreign Agent

Since 2012, more than 20 laws have been implemented and are actively applied in the Russian Federation that create significant obstacles for HIV service NPOs that receive foreign financing (laws regulating legal entities–foreign agents, MMO-foreign agents, individuals–foreign agents, citizen groups–foreign agents, and laws regulating undesirable organizations). The effects of these laws are compounded by prohibitions […]

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Drug Laws and Policies in Four Regions of Eurasia

There is considerable variance in how countries in the regions of Eastern, Central and Southern Europe, as well as Central Asia and Transcaucasia, are affected by “the world drug problem” and their responses to this public health challenge. However, what they face in common is a high prevalence of injection drug use (IDU) and serious […]

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December 2021

Harms of Sex Offender Registries in Canada among people living with HIV

This paper examines the harms of sex offender registries (SOR) in Canada as experienced by people living with HIV. These harms are significant and wide-ranging, and include social harms, psychological harms, and harms to liberty and human dignity. Specifically, this paper examines the experiences of people living with HIV convicted of aggravated sexual assault for […]

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MEDIA RELEASE: LEADING HUMAN RIGHTS AND PUBLIC HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS RELEASE NATIONAL DRUG DECRIMINALIZATION PLATFORM FOR CANADA

Leading human rights and public health organizations release national drug decriminalization platform for Canada   The bill that the federal government introduced this week to repeal mandatory minimum sentences and offer alternatives to prosecution for simple drug possession is a step in the right direction, but doesn’t go far enough. For immediate release Thursday, December 9, 2021 […]

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Decriminalization Done Right: A Rights-Based Path for Drug Policy

A CALL TO PUT HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST Punitive drug laws and policies purported to deter drug use have failed — and worse, they have done catastrophic harm. They have fueled deadly stigma; epidemics of preventable illness and death; poverty; homelessness; and widespread, systematic, and egregious violations of human rights. They are rooted in, […]

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Deputation to Toronto Board of Health re: Toronto’s submission to Health Canada for a section 56 exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Today, Sandra Ka Hon Chu, Co-Executive Director at the HIV Legal Network, on behalf of Angela Robertson, Executive Director, Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, and Jason Altenberg, Chief Executive Officer, South Riverdale Community Health Centre, made this deputation to the Toronto Board of Health regarding Toronto’s submission to Health Canada for a section 56 exemption to […]

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November 2021

MEDIA STATEMENT: WORLD AIDS DAY 2021: FORTY YEARS OF HIV, FORTY YEARS OF PROGRESS

WORLD AIDS DAY 2021: FORTY YEARS OF HIV, FORTY YEARS OF PROGRESS The following can be attributed to the HIV Legal Network.   November 30, 2021 – Toronto – Tomorrow is World AIDS Day — a day to reflect on the current state of HIV and AIDS in the world, where we started, and how […]

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Letter to Eileen de Villa re: Toronto’s submission to Health Canada for a section 56 exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Today, November 29, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health has proposed a new model for drug policy — you can read more about the Toronto model here: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2021/hl/bgrd/backgroundfile-173568.pdf We are pleased that drug decriminalization is being considered and that the process is beginning. You can read our assessment of the Toronto model here. It’s time for decriminalization […]

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Human rights advocates eye legal action against Canadian, German, Norwegian and UK governments over global COVID vaccine inequality

Human rights advocates eye legal action against Canadian, German, Norwegian and UK governments over global COVID vaccine inequality Coordinated legal efforts call on “recalcitrant” governments to support proposed waiver of COVID-related intellectual property monopolies at the WTO 25 November 2021 Human rights lawyers have threatened legal action against the German, Norwegian, and Canadian governments today […]

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Drug Policy and the Fundamental Human Rights of Women who Use Drugs: Briefing paper to CEDAW

Across the world, women who use drugs endure intersecting forms of discrimination related to gender, drug use, HIV status, mental health conditions, and other factors. They are denied basic rights to equality and non-discrimination, life, the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, family, information, privacy, and freedom from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. While […]

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Respect, Protect, Fulfill: Supporting the HIV Legal Network

Respect. Protect. Fulfill. You can help challenge wrongs, advance rights, and transform lives. Denied basic healthcare. Criminalized and vilified for love. Unfairly targeted by police. These abuses, and more, are too often the experience of people living with HIV and of communities affected by HIV. At the HIV Legal Network, our mission has always been […]

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Human Rights Imperative: The HIV Legal Network in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Respect. Protect. Fulfill. You can help challenge wrongs, advance rights, and transform lives. In countries of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region, people who use drugs are routinely denied basic healthcare and harm reduction services. They are unfairly targeted by police and subjected to torture. Parents face losing custody of their children. There […]

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Covering Risk: HIV Criminalization and Condoms

In Canada, people living with HIV can be criminalized for not disclosing their status before engaging in a sexual activity where there is a “realistic possibility of HIV transmission.” Although the possibility of HIV transmission when a condom is used ranges from negligible to none, the law remains unsettled about whether condoms are sufficient on […]

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October 2021

Caught in the Carceral Web: Anti-Trafficking Laws and Policies and Their Impact on Migrant Sex Workers

In Canada, a complex and multiscalar web of laws has been constructed to target sex trafficking. These laws range from federal prohibitions against human trafficking in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Criminal Code, to provincial laws that provide tools to raise awareness of the offence, to detect alleged traffickers and to provide victims […]

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Open Letter to Justin Trudeau: Prioritizing Drug Policy for Incoming Cabinet Members

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P. Prime Minister of Canada Langevin Block Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2 October 19, 2021 Dear Prime Minister: RE: Prioritizing Drug Policy for Incoming Cabinet Members As you well know, almost 23,000 people have died from an opioid overdose between January 2016 and March 2021, fueled by a contaminated drug supply […]

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Intimate Conviction 2: Continuing the Decriminalization Dialogue volume

In November 2020, the HIV Legal Network hosted Intimate Conviction 2: Continuing the Decriminalization Dialogue conference online, inviting more than 30 expert speakers to share their knowledge and experience with laws criminalizing same-sex intimacy. We are now very pleased to share the edited volume of presentations from this conference. Here you will find personal stories of […]

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September 2021

Criminalization and stigma exacerbate violence against women who use drugs in the Russian Federation

Criminalization and stigma exacerbate violence against women who use drugs in the Russian Federation Report in relation to the 9th Periodic Report of the Russian Federation CEDAW/C/RUS/9 This report is submitted by Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice (ARF) on behalf of the Russian Civil Society Mechanism for Monitoring of Drug Policy Reforms. […]

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HIV, Hepatitis C and Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections in Canada: Top Election 2021 Issues

Joint press release: HIV, Hepatitis C and Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections in Canada: Top Election 2021 Issues Health and human rights groups identify priorities for federal policymakers as people in Canada head to the polls Tuesday, September 14, 2021 – More than 60,000 people are currently living with HIV in Canada, approximately 13% of […]

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August 2021

9th Symposium Report – Hitting the Mark: Ending the HIV pandemic by realizing rights for people who use drugs

On June 17, 2021, the HIV Legal Network held its 9th Symposium on HIV, Law, and Human Rights. This biannual symposium serves as one of Canada’s seminal events regarding HIV and human rights and offers an opportunity for education and networking among advocates, frontline staff, people with lived experience, and academics, among others. Focusing on […]

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June 2021

Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee: List of Issues Prior to Reporting in Canada

In advance of the adoption of the List of Issues Prior to Reporting for Canada’s periodic review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), to be held during the 132nd session (28 June to 23 July 2021), the HIV Legal Network would like to provide information to the United Nations (UN) Human […]

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Joint Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee: List of Issues Prior to Reporting in Canada

In advance of the adoption of the List of Issues Prior to Reporting for Canada’s periodic review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), to be held during the 132nd session (28 June to 23 July 2021), the HIV Legal Network and the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation (CDPE) would like to […]

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Joint Submission to Toronto City Council on Bill 251, Combating Human Trafficking Act, 2021

Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) (“Butterfly”) was formed by sex workers, social workers, legal and health professionals to provide support to, and advocate for, the rights of Asian and migrant sex workers. Butterfly was founded upon the belief that sex workers are entitled to respect and human rights; regardless of their immigration […]

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Submission to Toronto Board of Health on Toronto Overdose Action Plan: Status Report 2021 (June 3, 2021)

We make this submission to inform the Board of Health’s consideration of the June 3, 2021 Report from the Medical Officer of Health, and in particular, the Medical Officer of Health’s recommendations that the Board of Health “reiterate its call urging the Federal Minister of Health to use the authority under the Controlled Drugs and […]

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Centering Health, Respecting Rights: A training manual for police

Police wield immense power over many marginalized and criminalized communities, who are also disproportionately affected by HIV and/or hepatitis C (HCV). Current movements to reimagine and reduce the role of police and reinvest in community-led initiatives are imperative to promote public health and uphold human rights. At the same time, providing law enforcement with knowledge about […]

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List of Issues Prior to Reporting in Canada: Submission to the United Nations Committee against Torture

In June 2021, the HIV Legal Network and the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation (CDPE) made a joint submission to the UN Committee against Torture regarding its review of Canada under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, focusing on torturous, cruel, and inhuman treatment of people who use […]

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