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Our Work

Our Work

Our most recent posts are listed below. To learn more about a specific issue, select a topic under “Our Work” in the menu to the left.

For our publications on past topics, click on “Find Publications” and search by topic.


July 2020 June 2020 May 2020 April 2020 March 2020 February 2020 January 2020 December 2019 November 2019 October 2019 September 2019 August 2019 July 2019

July 2020

Media Statement: Civil Society Organizations Renew Call for Drug Decriminalization

Civil Society Organizations Renew Call for Drug Decriminalization The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police now recognizes harms of criminalization The following statement is issued by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, and Pivot Legal Society.   July 10, 2020 — Yesterday, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) released […]

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June 2020

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act: The Good, the Bad, and the Ineffective

In Canada, people who use drugs are dying in record numbers. Between January 2016 and September 2019, more than 14,700 people died of apparent opioid overdoses in this country. In Ontario alone, more than 1450 people died from opioid-related causes in 2018. The overwhelming majority of these overdoses and deaths involve fentanyl or its analogues, […]

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LA PÉNALISATION DU VIH EN AFRIQUE FRANCOPHONE : ENJEUX ET RÉFORMES

Sorry, this entry is only available in French.

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Submission to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in relation to its study on arbitrary detention relating to drug policies

We are grateful to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for the opportunity to make this submission, and respond below to questions relevant to Canada in the Working Group’s questionnaire, to the extent that requested data is available in Canada.

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May 2020

Submission to Edmonton City Council: reject the proposal to permanently close Edmonton’s Body Rub Centres

In March 2020, Body Rub Centres in Edmonton were closed pursuant to a State of Local Emergency Order, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 27, 2020, Edmonton City Councillor Jon Dziadyk stated he wants to explore options for accelerating the permanent closure of Body Rub Centres in the next annual update, given that the Centres are currently […]

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Media release: Civil society organizations call for drug decriminalization as a necessary response to COVID-19

  May 14, 2020 — Today, more than 50 leading human rights, health, and drug policy organizations from across the country, including the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Pivot Legal Society, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Canadian Association of People who use Drugs, Amnesty International, the BC Centre on Substance Use, and the Canadian Public Health […]

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Letter to Canadian Government: Decriminalize simple drug possession immediately

SIGN IN SUPPORT OF THE DECRIMINALIZATION OF DRUG POSSESSION (organizations only)   The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Pivot Legal Society and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition have joined forces to call on key ministers in the federal government to immediately decriminalize the possession of illicit drugs in response to the twin crises of opioid overdoses […]

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LEGAL CHALLENGE CITING CANADA’S FAILURE TO PROTECT PRISONERS’ HEALTH DURING COVID-19: NOTICE OF APPLICATION

On May 12, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canadian Prison Law Association (CPLA), HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO), and current federal prisoner Sean Johnston filed a constitutional and human rights challenge against the Government of Canada, to compel it to take proactive steps to ensure prisoners’ safety in the […]

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NEWS RELEASE: LEGAL CHALLENGE CITING CANADA’S FAILURE TO PROTECT PRISONERS’ HEALTH DURING COVID-19

                                         HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS FILE LEGAL CHALLENGE CITING CANADA’S FAILURE TO PROTECT PRISONERS’ HEALTH IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID-19 Correctional Service Canada must take steps to reduce the prison population to the greatest extent possible    May 12, 2020 — The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canadian Prison Law Association […]

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Gendering the Scene: Women, Gender-Diverse People, and Harm Reduction in Canada – Full report

At writing, Canada is facing an unprecedented overdose crisis that is killing at alarming rates. Canada’s ongoing fixation on criminal prohibition as the primary approach to addressing drug use has led to a situation in which people who use drugs continue to face criminalization, political and social hostility, and limited access to harm reduction and health […]

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Gendering the Scene: Women, Gender-Diverse People, and Harm Reduction in Canada – Summary report

There are marked differences between men, women, and gender-diverse people in terms of their drug use and how laws and policies affect them. However, insufficient attention is paid to the needs of women and gender-diverse people who use drugs and their access to health services, including harm reduction services. This is especially true for gender-diverse […]

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STATEMENT: A SETBACK FOR PRISONERS’ RIGHTS AND PUBLIC HEALTH

The following statement is issued by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Comments can be attributed to Sandra Ka Hon Chu, Director of Research and Advocacy. Court suggests denying sterile injection equipment to prisoners may breach Charter rights, but declines to find that flaws in current federal prison needle exchange program make it unconstitutional May 1, 2020 […]

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April 2020

Blog: How we’re advancing rights for all during COVID-19

We advocate for communities who are ignored and excluded, or even scapegoated and criminalized. So with the emergence of this new pandemic, we’re not surprised that the most marginalized among us (including prisoners, people who use drugs, sex workers, those without housing, and migrants) are among those experiencing the most harm. COVID-19 is not “the […]

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ONTARIO: Protecting Prisoner Health during COVID-19

  SIGN YOUR NAME IN SUPPORT OF PRISON HEALTH IN ONTARIO (both individuals and organizations can sign)    Download letter   April 23, 2020   Hon. Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General, Ministry of the Solicitor General Hon. Christine Elliott, Minister of Health and Deputy Premier, Ministry of Health Hon. Doug Downey, Attorney General of Ontario, Ministry of the Attorney General   Dear […]

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SECOND LETTER TO GOVERNMENT (FOLLOW UP): COVID-19 – PROTECTING PRISONER HEALTH

Download letter to Federal Minister Bill Blair and Commissioner of CSC Anne Kelly.   April 13, 2020   The Hon. Bill Blair Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Public Safety Canada Anne Kelly, Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada   Dear Minister Blair and Commissioner Kelly: Re: COVID-19 – Protecting Prisoner Health We […]

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FLATTEN INEQUALITY: Human rights in the age of COVID-19

In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, law- and policymakers are taking and contemplating drastic measures to minimize the spread of the virus. But hasty and broad punitive measures may perversely undermine public health objectives while also violating human rights — so it is essential that any measures be appropriately narrow and comply with […]

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Letter: Protect The Right to Health of People Who Use Drugs During COVID-19

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network has joined leaders in harm reduction to call on the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health to provide guidance to states on how to promote and protect the right to health of people who use drugs in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 emergency poses unprecedented challenges, creating […]

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Letter: Canadian border closed to refugees

        The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Doctors Without Borders Canada and Amnesty International Canada called on the Canadian government to uphold refugee laws and treaties and to immediately reverse its March 20, 2020 Orders in Council legislation during COVID-19 to shut the Canada-US border to people seeking refugee protection and return them […]

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March 2020

Letter: Reject the socio-economic “review” of supervised consumption sites in Alberta 

Read our open letter (download here) in response to Alberta’s “review” of supervised consumption sites, which has been endorsed by 30 Canadian organizations. We have sent this to Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta; Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health; and Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.   Dear Premier Kenney, Minister Shandro, and Associate Minister Luan: We […]

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Open letter to government: COVID-19 – Protecting Prisoner Health

Download letter to Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. Download letter to Federal Minister Bill Blair and Commissioner of CSC Anne Kelly.   March 17, 2020   The Hon. Bill Blair Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Public Safety Canada Anne Kelly, Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada     Dear Minister Blair and Commissioner Kelly:   […]

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NEWS RELEASE: PRISON NEEDLE AND SYRINGE PROGRAM

A PUBLIC HEALTH FAILURE: FORMER PRISONER AND HIV GROUPS IN COURT SUING THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA FOR FAILING TO PROVIDE EFFECTIVE ACCESS TO PRISON NEEDLE AND SYRINGE PROGRAM   This statement is being re-released (with additional information) due to a rescheduling of the court hearing from December 9, 2019 to March 6, 2020.  The following […]

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February 2020

STATEMENT: WHY ARE WE STILL PROSECUTING PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV WHO USE CONDOMS?

The following statement is issued jointly by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (“Legal Network”), the Coalition des organismes communautaires québécois de lutte contre le sida (COCQ-SIDA), and the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO). Comments can be attributed to Richard Elliott, Executive Director, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.   TORONTO, February 12, 2020 — Today, […]

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January 2020

Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants on the Rights to Freedom of Association of Migrants

We make this submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Mr. Felipe González Morales, to describe laws and policies that inhibit migrant sex workers and other marginalized communities from enjoying their right to freedom of association, as well as concrete steps that States, international organizations and the UN can take […]

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Supporting Health and Human Rights in Drug Policy: Brief to the Minister of Health and Canadian Delegation to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs

This brief is submitted to the Minister of Health and members of the Canadian delegation to the 63rd session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) by the Canadian Civil Society Working Group on UN Drug Policy (see Appendix). The Working Group was originally established in preparation for the 2016 UNGASS. Since this event, […]

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December 2019

NEWS RELEASE: PRISON NEEDLE AND SYRINGE PROGRAM

A PUBLIC HEALTH FAILURE:  FORMER PRISONER AND HIV GROUPS IN COURT SUING THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA FOR FAILING TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO EFFECTIVE PRISON NEEDLE AND SYRINGE PROGRAM   The following statement is issued by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Comments can be attributed to Sandra Ka Hon Chu, Director of Research and Advocacy.   December […]

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Media advisory: Prison needle exchange program court hearing

FORMER PRISONER AND HIV GROUPS IN COURT SUING THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA FOR FAILING TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO EFFECTIVE PRISON NEEDLE AND SYRINGE PROGRAM   The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, a former prisoner, and three other HIV organizations are suing the Government of Canada over its failure to provide prisoners with easy, confidential, and effective […]

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November 2019

NEWS RELEASE: CANADA’S TOP 5 ISSUES FOR WORLD AIDS DAY 2019

  November 28, 2019 — Sunday, December 1 is World AIDS Day, and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is calling on the Government of Canada to respond to HIV with a renewed emphasis on human rights and a much-needed infusion of resources. The latest data shows HIV infections are continuing to rise, with a 17.1% increase […]

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October 2019

Submission to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women

In advance of the adoption of the List of Issues Prior to Reporting for Canada’s periodic review under the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW Convention”), to be held during the 76th Pre-Sessional Working Group (11 – 15 November, 2019), the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (“HIV Legal Network”) […]

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September 2019

Federal Election 2019

On October 21, 2019, Canadians will head to the polls for a federal election. This is our chance to decide what kind of government we want — and at the Legal Network we’re hoping for one that upholds and actively promotes health and human rights. On this page you’ll find resources related to the election […]

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Joint written statement on Violations of The Right to Life in The Context of Drug Control

Harm Reduction International and supporting organisations wish to congratulate the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for her latest report, and for her ongoing efforts to highlight and address heinous violations of fundamental rights committed in the context of drug control. While countries are increasingly recognising drugs as a primarily health-related issue, we […]

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Joint written statement on The Disproportionate Impact of The Death Penalty for Drug Offences on Foreign Nationals

Harm Reduction International (HRI) and supporting organisations welcome the report by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, and wish to take this opportunity to comment on the disproportionate impact of the criminal justice response to drugs on foreign nationals, including migrant women, in countries that retain the death penalty for drug offences. […]

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Joint written statement on Limitations to Judicial Independence in The Context of Drug Control

Harm Reduction International and supporting organisations welcome the Report by the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, as well as his March 2019 statement (co-authored with the Special Rapporteur on the right to health) on drug courts; which warned against the dangers of drug courts as manifestations of the abuse of the […]

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Joint written statement on Protecting and Promoting the Health of People Who Use Drugs

Harm Reduction International (HRI) and supporting organisations welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health on promoting mental health through a holistic approach, and the attention paid to underlying determinants, the impact of discrimination, and the need to […]

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Report to OHCHR on “human rights in the administration of justice”

Introduction People who use drugs retain their fundamental rights, including the right to health and including in detention settings, and States have a heightened, positive obligation to protect those most vulnerable, and/or under their direct control. Regrettably, the criminalisation of drug use and drug possession for personal use, in the context of repressive drug policies, […]

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August 2019

Open Letter to Premier Kenney about SCS

On August 30, 2019, in advance of International Overdose Awareness Day, our colleagues in Alberta sent this open letter to Premier Jason Kenney, Minister of Health Tyler Shandro and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan, urging them to reconsider their announced review of supervised consumption services in their province. We are proud […]

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Report from the 8th Symposium on HIV, Law and Human Rights

Our 8th Symposium on HIV, Law and Human Rights was held on June 14th and featured moving stories from people who have experience being criminalized, analysis from scientific experts and others active in the community. Download our report on the event to find out more about what was discussed!

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Letter to the Chinese delegation (UNAIDS) — 3 HIV advocates wrongfully detained

Three Chinese lawyers and advocates, Cheng Yuan, Wu Gejianxiong, and Liu Yongze, who work on employment discrimination and disability justice for people living with HIV and viral hepatitis, have been wrongfully detained in Hunan, China since 22 July 2019.  The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network sent a letter to the Chinese delegation of the UNAIDS Programme […]

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Statement: Prisoners’ Justice Day highlights flaws in current Prison Needle Exchange Program

PRISONERS’ JUSTICE DAY HIGHLIGHTS FUNDAMENTAL FLAWS WITH GOVERNMENT OF CANADA’S CURRENT PRISON NEEDLE EXCHANGE PROGRAM   The following statement is issued by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (“Legal Network”). Comments can be attributed to Sandra Ka Hon Chu, Director of Research and Advocacy.  August 9, 2019 — This Prisoners’ Justice Day (August 10), as prisoners […]

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Documentary #NonExistentWeExist

Watch the trailer now (full film below) A documentary co-produced the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, on the inspiring efforts of communities working on the streets of Russia to try and halt the HIV epidemic. This film is set against the backdrop of the Russian government’s failed response to HIV, their refusal to acknowledge the epidemic, […]

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The Coalition of LGBTTTI at the 49th general assembly of the OAS

The 49th General Assembly of the OAS (Organization of American States) demonstrated the increasing influence of groups opposed to the recognition of human rights for vulnerable and marginalized people across the Americas. This reflects the dangerous drift towards populism in the hemisphere. Despite these ominous signs and daunting odds, the Legal Network was privileged to […]

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July 2019

Letter to federal Attorney General on HIV Criminalization

The Legal Network sent the following letter to federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice David Lametti on the subject of HIV criminalization.   July 22, 2019    The Hon. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada 180 Wellington St. Office 609 House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6    Dear Minister: First of […]

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Open letter to Minister of Health on SCS

The Legal Network has sent the following letter to the Honorable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, federal Minister of Health, on behalf of likeminded health and human rights organizations.   July 22, 2019 The Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health Confederation Building 356 House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6     Dear Minister:   […]

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NEWS RELEASE: GAY MAN FILES LEGAL CHALLENGE AGAINST DOMINICA’S ANTI-LGBT LAWS

Lawsuit builds on the global push for decriminalisation of LGBT people and aims to end one of the last remaining anti-sodomy laws in Western Hemisphere   July 18, 2019 — A gay man, who must remain anonymous for his own protection, has today filed a landmark claim challenging Dominica’s homophobic laws that criminalise “buggery” and […]

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Constitutional challenge to Dominica’s laws criminalising LGBTQ people: Questions & Answers

A gay man has filed a case in the High Court of Justice in Dominica challenging the country’s laws criminalising “buggery” and other sexual activity between consenting partners, including and in particular partners of the same sex, as violating numerous rights guaranteed in the Constitution of Dominica. This backgrounder answers some key questions related to […]

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