Trinidad to tighten AIDS spreading law

Authorities in Trinidad are to consult with non government organizations and the judiciary to formulate new laws against the willful and reckless spread of HIV-AIDS in the aftermath of a case where a court convicted a husband of killing his wife because she had knowingly passed on the deadly disease to him.

Anthony Atwell was spared the death penalty by a sympathetic and understanding jury who voted for the lesser count of manslaughter instead of murder one while deliberating in his trial for the murder of his wife in south Trinidad in 2003.

Justice Tony Carmona who presided over Atwell’s trial used the opportunity to call on authorities to review the entire approach to someone spreading the disease willfully and recklessly, a point that was quickly pounced on by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

Ramlogan announced that officials are prepared to consult with the law reform commission and HIV-AIDS advocacy groups to pore over a previous bill that had been brought to parliament by the then Patrick

Manning administration to deal with this rather vexing but unchartered issue.

Introduced in 2004, the bill successfully made its way through the lower house but never through the senate and was allowed to lapse through the entire final term of the Manning government that ended in May last year when he strangely gifted the government to the opposition by calling general elections with more than two full years left of his term.

The Atwell case appears to have brought back the stark realization to authorities that there is no real legal authority covering the willful on-passing of the disease to another person but Ramlogan and others say there is need for ordinary persons to be protected from another bent on spreading it.

The judge called for new laws with stiff penalties to deal with this issue.

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