Professor’s Visit Prompts Action from Sri Lanka President
Boalt Professor Laurel Fletcher traveled to Sri Lanka earlier this month to give a series of public lectures about the importance of establishing HIV treatment in Sri Lanka. The lectures, presented to medical, legal and social service professionals, focused on the human rights issues surrounding HIV/AIDS and the need for the country to act quickly in order to avoid a full-blown epidemic. Fletcher, director of Boalt’s International Human Rights Law Clinic, was sponsored by the Fulbright Commission to speak in Sri Lanka.
As a result of the talks, Sri Lanka President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga will convene a high-level government meeting in June to assess the country’s HIV/AIDS policy. The meeting, which will involve representatives from the Ministry of Health and non-governmental organizations focused on HIV/AIDS as well as the president and prime minister, is an unprecedented gathering in Sri Lanka.
The lectures, which took place April 28 through May 9, are a follow up to the AIDS Lanka project, a collaborative effort between three Boalt Hall clinics--the International Human Rights Law Clinic; the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic; and the East Bay Community Law Center. The clinics worked with the AIDS Coalition, a Sri Lanka-based organization, to advocate for treatment for HIV-positive Sri Lankans. Last April members of the AIDS Lanka project provided the Sri Lankan government and the World Bank with a legal memorandum arguing that funding for treatment as well as prevention were necessary to stop the spread of AIDS and fulfill the country’s human rights obligations.