Minister says changes will be made to regulation allowing forced HIV testing

Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis on Friday said he planned to scrap a contentious regulation granting the police powers to detain people and force them to be tested for HIV and other infectious diseases.

A committee mulling changes to the decree is expected to submit its proposals in the next two or three weeks, Georgiadis said, adding that existing measures will be in force until the new regulation is approved.

“The health regulation will remain, because we respect everyone’s rights… both those of the weaker members of society but also of the rest of the population who want to feel safe,” the recently-appointed minister said.

The decree, which has come under fire from human rights groups, was first introduced in April 2012 by ex-Health Minister Andreas Loverdos. It was followed by the round-up and forced testing of dozens of unregistered sex workers and drug users, which the minister argued was in the interest of public safety.

It was abolished about a year later by Deputy Health Minister Fotini Skopouli who resigned after Democratic Left pulled out of the government coalition. Georgiadis revived the regulation a day after taking up the job in June.

Speaking in Parliament, Georgiadis sough to defend the government against accusations by SYRIZA MP Vassiliki Katrivanou that the measure is “unconstitutional” and “in breach of the rule of law.”

“I am a practical person. If you think that the health provision is unconstitutional, you can go to an administrative court and challenge it,” Georgiadis said.

“If the court rules that it is unconstitutional, we will immediately withdraw it.”

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