21 November 2017

Namibia: Circulating Others' Alleged HIV Status Condemned

Windhoek — Namibia's Ombudsman Advocate John Walters questioned what joy some people derived from circulating others' HIV status on social media.

"Why dig into someone's privacy? Stop it. If you get joy, what joy do you get by spreading rumour (s) and even if it is true, what joy or reward do you get," asked Walters.

He was responding to enquiries about what consequences people could face by disclosing and circulating other people's HIV status on social media.

A list consisting of 29 names including a local lecturer, businessmen and local designer alleged to be HIV positive is making the rounds on social media.

"This people are HIV and AIDS (sic). Please protect our mother and sisters by circulating this message by sharing it on whatsapp."

Minister of Information and Communication Technology Tjekero Tweya could not be reached for comment regarding what action the people mentioned could take against those who posted their status on social media.

In addition to the circulating HIV list, social media has in the past been inundated with names of people alleged to be homosexuals.

Walters told New Era that tracing the identity of the main person who initially posts such allegations on social media posed a problem.

"We don't have a mechanism other than our courts. If that's matter of defamation, then you need to sue that person for spreading false information against you. All I can do is urge people not to do that," remarked Walters, and added that it was not in anyone's interest to reveal someone's status.

Walters also urged those who receive such posts to stop resending them, because even if the allegations were true it had nothing to do with them.

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