HUMAN RIGHTS AWARDS: CARIBBEAN, CANADIAN HIV/AIDS ACTIVISTS HONORED
Recipients Champion Rights of Marginalized Communities
Toronto, June 9, 2011 - Today, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and
Human Rights Watch will jointly present their 2011 Awards for Action on HIV/AIDS
and Human Rights. The International Award honors the Caribbean Vulnerable
Communities coalition and its late co-founder, Dr. Robert Carr. The Canadian Award
recognizes 20 years of advocacy on behalf of incarcerated people by the Prisoners'
HIV/AIDS Support Action Network.
The awards, given annually since 2002, recognize outstanding individuals and
organizations that protect the rights and dignity of people living with or affected by
HIV/AIDS. This year's awards will be presented at a public ceremony in Toronto as
part of the Legal Network's Symposium on HIV, Law and Human Rights
(www.aidslaw.ca/symposium). The keynote speech, following the ceremony, will be
by Alan Young, counsel in Bedford v. Canada, a constitutional challenge to Canada's
prostitution laws that harm sex workers.
Dr. Carr's untimely death in early May ended a brilliant career of dedication to the
plight of those most vulnerable to HIV, the Legal Network and Human Rights Watch
said. However, the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities coalition (CVC), the group he
co-founded in 2004, continues his vital work throughout the Caribbean.
Founded in 2004, CVC is a coalition of community leaders and non-governmental
agencies providing services directly to and on behalf of Caribbean populations
especially vulnerable to HIV infection or often forgotten in access to treatment and
health-care programs. These include women and girls, sex workers, LGBT people,
and people who use drugs, among others.
"In a social, cultural and political environment that is hostile and often violent, CVC
strives to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our region do not remain
voiceless and invisible," said Ian McKnight, executive director of CVC. "This award is
an honor and a recognition of Dr. Carr's tireless work, as well as encouragement for
what still needs to be achieved."
In Canada, the work of Prisoners' HIV/AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN) has
long championed one of the most marginalized groups of people, those who are
incarcerated, the groups said. It was formed in 1991 as a grass-roots response to
the AIDS crisis in the Canadian prison system.
PASAN provides HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C prevention education and support
services to prisoners, former prisoners, youth in custody and their families. It
currently serves more than 600 people. It also has published extensive reference
material, including a landmark study about on women and HIV/AIDS in prison.
"Prisoners' rights here in Canada are being increasingly challenged, and sadly we
expect that situation to get worse before it gets better," said Anne Marie DiCenso,
PASAN's executive director. "In such a climate, the work we have to do is more
important than ever."
In a joint statement, the Human Rights Watch health and human rights advocacy
director, Rebecca Schleifer, and the Legal Network executive director, Richard
Elliott, expressed admiration for the efforts of the 2011 Award recipients and
gratitude for their contributions to the rights, health and dignity of the most
"Time and again, we see how widespread human rights abuses fuel the HIV
epidemic and deny people access to critical information, care and treatment," their
statement said. "It is in the interests of our global society that CVC and PASAN
continue their important work demanding health and human rights for all."
About the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Since 1992, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (www.aidslaw.ca) has been
promoting the human rights of people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, in
Canada and internationally, through research, legal and policy analysis, education,
and community mobilization. The Legal Network is one of the world's leading
advocacy organizations working on the legal and human rights issues raised by
About Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org) is one of the world's leading independent
organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing
international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the
oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective
investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and
raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has
worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change
and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.
For more information, including bios, and to arrange interviews:
Janet Butler-McPhee, Director of Communications, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal
Network, (416) 595-1666 ext. 228, (416) 268-2549 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Amon, Human Rights Watch, (212) 216-1286; (917) 519 8930 (cell)
Rebecca Schleifer, Human Rights Watch, (212) 216-1273; (917) 349-7177 (cell)