Papua puts off controversial
microchip plan

Papua’s provincial legislative council has decided to postpone the endorsement of the Papua HIV/AIDS Handling bylaw planned for approval this Monday, after the provincial administration deemed it would violate human rights.

“The endorsement was postponed because the legislative and executive branches had different perceptions on the use of microchips for people with HIV/AIDS,” council deputy speaker Komarudin Watubun told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

“The executive sees it as violating human rights, while we councilors view it as an effort to build awareness within society.”

Several NGOs working on HIV/AIDS and women’s issues have also expressed strong opposition to the draft bylaw, Komarudin added.

Because of this deadlock, he went on, the provincial administration and the legislature might agree to strike the controversial microchip article from the draft, following widespread public rejection of the article.

“If the public cannot or will not accept (the article), the council cannot force its will,” he said.

“The bylaw’s endorsement depends on public reaction. Why would we pass it if the public was against it?

“The draft bylaw will only be passed when the administration, legislature and NGOs agree on it. Meetings will be held to reach this.”

Papua Vice Governor Alex Hasegem, reading the administration’s response at the legislature’s plenary session, said HIV/AIDS handling should apply universal principles.

One of those principles, he went on, was to respect people living with HIV/AIDS by eradicating stigmata and discrimination.

“Implanting microchips in people with HIV/AIDS is not in accordance with these principles because it is a form of stigmatizing,” Alex said.

The proposed measure has never been done anywhere in the world and has not been tested to gauge its success.

Alex rejected the inclusion of the microchip article in the draft bylaw, saying the regulation was not meant as a test run for the microchip scheme.

As it stands, the 40-article bylaw requires microchips be implanted in people with HIV/AIDS deemed aggressive, or actively seeking sexual intercourse.

In November, councilor John Manangsang said the public should not misunderstand human rights as it related to this issue.

“If we respect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, then we must also respect the rights of those without,” he said.

He added the public should judge the draft bylaw as a whole rather than by its constituent articles.

“The draft, for instance, requires everyone to take HIV/ AIDS tests so preventative measures can be taken early on.”

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