Episode 2 of the Right On Podcast: Human Rights Activists Respond to COVID-19 explores criminalization and policing. Many countries are now seeing the most significant deployment of law enforcement and national defense forces since World War II. Should they be arresting people who refuse to follow lockdown regulations? Or will aggressive policing, abuse and criminalization only undermine trust and fuel the virus? Should we also be considering the labor rights of frontline police officers? Can human rights offer us a way forward out of this crisis?
No easy answers, but it was a real delight to explore these questions with three inspiring activists who are also friends: Edwin J. Bernard (HIV Justice Network), Felicita Hikuam (AIDS and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa), and Mikhail Golichenko, a Russian lawyer. Actually, Patrick Eba suggested, on the first episode, that we talk to the HIV Justice Network, and it was a great suggestion. The second episode is now being edited and will air Friday, May 15, 2020 on Apple, Spotify, Soundcloud, and Stitcher.
Edwin J Bernard is the Executive Director of the HIV Justice Network, a global information and advocacy hub for individuals and organisations working to end the inappropriate use of the criminal law to regulate and punish people living with HIV. Edwin, a former journalist and blogger who has been living with HIV since 1983, is also Global Co-ordinator of the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE coalition – led by a nine-member Steering Committee and supported by over 100 civil society organisations – that campaigns to abolish criminal laws that regulate, control and punish people living with HIV based solely on their HIV-positive status.
Felicita Hikuam is the Director of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), a partnership of civil society organisations working to promote the rights to bodily autonomy and integrity across southern and east Africa. Since 2002, Felicita has worked in human rights and public health policy and advocacy at national, regional and international levels, which included coordinating a global anti-stigma campaign for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva, Switzerland and serving as the African NGO delegate on the NGO delegation to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wartburg College in the United States of America and a Post Graduate Diploma in Management Practice from the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town. She serves on the boards of SRHR Africa Trust and Sonke Gender Justice.
Mikhail Golichenko is Senior Policy Analyst at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. He leads research and advocacy work in Russian-speaking countries, with a particular focus on drug policy issues. He has been involved extensively in building the capacity of community legal workers in Russia and continues to provide assistance in challenging cases related to drug use and human rights before various regional and international bodies, including the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee. He has authored several publications on civil litigation issues in Russia.
Previously, Mikhail was a Legal Officer with the UNODC Country Office for the Russian Federation in Moscow, where his work focused on the promotion of human rights and addressing legal barriers to accessing effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs for prisoners and people who inject drugs.
He has also worked for the UN Peacekeeping in West Africa and the Russian police service in different positions, including as an instructor. Mikhail holds a Candidate of Sciences degree (PhD equivalent) in Russian Civil Law from Saratov State Academy of Law and an LL.M. in Canadian Common Law from Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. He has been a member of the Russian Bar Association since 2007.