The WA Court of Appeal has today handed down a unanimous verdict to allow the appeal made by CJ Palmer and to reduce her sentence from 6 years to 4, against the charge of grievous bodily harm for the transmission of HIV to her ex-partner. CJ Palmer will now be eligible for parole as of April 1st, 2019.
The WA Court of Appeal have accepted the appeal made by CJ Palmer against her sentence, in a unanimous ruling on the basis that the sentence delivered on 16/02/18 was manifestly excessive.
Lena Van Hale, Manager of the WA sex worker support project Magenta states, “We applaud the decision from the WA Court of Appeal to reduce CJ Palmer’s sentence to 4 years. There is more evidence than ever before that punitive laws criminalising HIV transmission are harmful to public health. While our laws do not yet recognise international best practise in this space. In recognising the original sentence as manifestly excessive the WA court of appeal take the first step toward undoing that harm.”
Evidence shows that criminalisation in these cases is detrimental to public health. Criminalisation of non-intentional HIV transmission reduces rates of testing, does not reduce HIV transmissions, and undermines effective health promotion.
“We are happy for CJ and her family to hear this decision from the Court of Appeal today. We hope that CJ’s remaining time in the criminal justice system is free from the harmful coverage and discrimination that surrounded her incarceration”
Throughout her trial advocates called for courts and policy-makers to reject the application of criminal law in cases of alleged non-intentional HIV transmission, in line with Australia’s existing Guidelines for the Management of People with HIV who Place Others at Risk, and in line with UNAIDS guidance around management of HIV transmission.