Violation of human rights and breaches of medical confidentiality by the Greek Police and Health Authorities
Joint news release GNP+ and NSWP.
As part of a Government authorised crackdown on hundreds of unlicensed brothels around Greece, sex workers are being arrested, submitted to forced HIV testing and facing criminal charges without recourse to due process, as well as being publically identified in the media.
As a result of these actions women are to face prosecution on charges of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm merely because they are HIV positive. There is no proof of exposure or transmission to others nor is it clear that any of these women knew their HIV status prior to this test. They are facing further charges for misdemeanours related to alleged illegal prostitution.
These actions of the Greek Police and the Ministry of Health and KEELPNO violate fundamental human rights. They also contravene fundamental public health principles of informed consent and voluntary access to services.
We join UNAIDS (press statement) and others (EATG open letter) in urging the Greek authorities to review their actions with a view to adopting evidence-based programmes and an enabling legal environment that supports all people—including sex workers and their clients, people who use drugs, migrants and asylum-seekers—to access voluntary and confidential HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services so that they can avoid HIV infection or live a healthier life if HIV-positive.
The Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) has campaigned for the respect of female, male and transgender sex workers rights since 1992, including opposing the mandatory registration and testing of sex workers. "We demand that the Greek government stop the unjust prosecution of these women and end the forced testing of sex workers arrested on sex work related charges," says Global Coordinator of NSWP, Ruth Morgan Thomas. "It is time to end such discriminatory law enforcement and medical practices, which violate the fundamental human rights of sex workers."
GNP+ has long advocated for the promotion and protection of human rights of all people living with HIV and for the removal of legal and policy barriers to HIV care. "Such discriminatory use of the criminal law and police authority is counterproductive and ineffective to HIV prevention efforts and further stigmatizes an already marginalized group," says GNP+ International Coordinator and CEO, Kevin Moody. "We call for the Greek government and police authorities to stop mandatory HIV testing and breaches of confidentiality, and consider more effective measures that promote the health, dignity and well being of those living with HIV."