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The Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) is no longer in operation. This website documents FOCAL's activities and accomplishments throughout its existence. Thank you for your interest in the work of FOCAL.

UNAIDS calls for an end to stigma

Michel Sidibé, the executive director of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), has called for a stop to penalizing laws that impede the AIDS response in the Caribbean. He said that reducing homophobia and removing laws that criminalize sex between men create the right conditions for achieving universal access. Eleven of the 16 Caribbean countries currently have anti-sodomy legislation, and in many countries, men who have sex with men are not reached with HIV prevention and treatment.

Kenney criticized for refugee policy

Jason Kenney, Canada’s immigration minister, announced in late March that the federal government will be allowing more refugees into the country, but it won’t be footing the whole bill. He announced that an additional 2,500 refugees will be permitted each year, but private organizations must sponsor 2,000 of these refugees and give them financial and social support, leaving the government to sponsor the remaining 500. Further, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is slated to choose the 2,500 additional refugees. This is an adjustment from the plan in place today: currently, the government covers the costs of resettling 70 per cent of roughly 12,000 refugee claimants to Canada per year. Janet Dench, the executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, has said this strategy is the wrong approach. She says that refugee determination should be based upon the case of each individual, and adds that the new policy seems disrespectful to private sponsors.

OAS elections show consistency

Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin were both re-elected to their Organization of American States (OAS) positions on March 24, 2010. Insulza, who ran unopposed, now embarks on his second five-year term. In his speech during the Special General Assembly at the OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., he encouraged member states to continue their efforts to build democracy, human rights and public security. He added that although the OAS had made progress on these fronts, it can still make a big effort to improve its work. Insulza has been criticized by some in the past year for his handling of the Honduras political crisis following the June 2009 coup, his support for lifting Cuba’s ban from the organization and his lenient ways with leftist governments in the region, including Venezuela. The vote occurred just as U.S. legislators have been urging OAS reform.


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