On 1 January 2015, a project for people who use drugs (PUD) in South Africa was added to the Bridging the Gaps programme. Alliance Partner Mainline partnered up with TB/HIV Care and OUT LGBT Well-being to set up harm reduction services. The project covers three cities: Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban.

Training paralegals

Activities of paralegals are an important component to the project. Early February Mainline trained three teams of paralegals; one in each city. During the training, global partner INPUD was involved to ensure that the broader human rights context of our work was properly addressed. The training then focused on the question how paralegals can work to improve human rights on a very practical level.

Developing a practical tool to document human rights violations

Supported by trainers Jos and Shaun, the participants worked on developing a practical tool to allow the paralegals to document human rights violations. With input of all three teams the tool was finalised. In addition, the training focused on how to talk about human rights violations with people who use drugs, how to objectify the information that you get, how to ask the rights questions and how to make sure someone feels comfortable and safe.

We hope that documenting these violations will achieve that there is more awareness and people start to see us as humans. That is our wish: To be seen as human beings. 

The collective effort of the three teams in very different cities and drug user scenes will be bundled into an advocacy report by the end of the year.

Aligning human rights and harm reduction

In line with WHO’s consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations, the rights component in this project adds to the more bio-medical part that provides harm reduction services. This component of the project is co-funded by the Centre for Disease Control in South Africa . By combining health interventions with a strong focus on creating a more enabling environment we offer a comprehensive package of evidence-based HIV services for people who use drugs in South Africa.

Text by Mainline