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NATCOM orders cops to protect prostitutes

image PROTECT THEM: Some of the officers who attended the training workshop on key populations rights held at Esibayeni Lodge.

In the wake of 15 sex workers that were rounded up by police in Pigg’s Peak, police officers have been urged to develop a working relationship with them as they may be vital in providing vital information during investigations.

Through a programme set up by government, Swaziland National AIDS Programme (SNAP) and Family Health International (FHI 360), the ministry of health is working with police to address structural barriers faced by key populations such as sex workers.

National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula who was represented by his Assistant Polycarp Ngubane, in his speech during the official opening of a training workshop for police station commanders held at Esibayeni Lodge, asked for sex workers to be protected from abuse and harassment. 

Magagula stated that as the core principle of RSP, policing services is for every citizen and every human being in the kingdom of Swaziland and based on this principle, key populations should be treated with dignity and respect. 

Magagula stated that this required proactive involvement of police officers in protecting key populations from abuse and harassment as well as their risk of HIV and AIDS in their daily life. 

“Police officers are challenged on a daily basis to observe human rights for everyone as they render their services as per the requirements of the international conventions and national laws,’’ he said. Magagula said this was also in line with responding to King’s 2022 vision of eradicating new HIV infection occurrences, where one of  the country’s strategies is to observe the key populations’ rights to protection from unfounded violation which predisposes them to acquire HIV infection. 

“In doing so, the Royal Swaziland Police Service acknowledges the pivotal role of station commanders in ensuring that the rights of key populations are observed when criminal cases or violations are reported at the police station. Worth noting is that according to UNAIDS, key populations include people such as female sex workers, as they have the highest risk of contracting and transmitting HIV. Yet they also have the least access to prevention, care, and treatment services because their behaviour is often stigmatised, and even criminalised,’’ he said.

During the event it also surfaced that most police officers are sex workers’ clients.

“I am sorry to say this but it has been stated that most police officers are their clients,” the NATCOM representative stated referring to police officers being clients for prostitutes.

 

 ‘Most new infections come from key populations’

Senior Quality Assurance Coordinator in the ministry of health Thembi Dlamini said research from the country and around the globe has shown that most of the new HIV infections come from key populations. She said for instance, some are 50 times more likely to get HIV than other populations. 

“unfortunately, they often hide from seeking health care services because of the legal, social, stigma, discrimination barriers they experience” Dlamini stated.  

She added that as a ministry they believe that the role of the police and health sector is to ensure public health and safety.

 “Our policy is universal access to health for all,” Dlamini said.

 
 

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