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MHRC Rips Into Govt Plans for Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine

Malawi Human Rights Commission Executive Secretary Habiba Osman

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has described the move by Tonse alliance administration of forcing employees to get the vaccine jabs as “grave statutory and constitutional” mistake.

In a Press Statement released on Tuesday, 21, 2021 and signed by the Commission’s Chairperson, Scander Louis, the Commission says mandatory vaccines ‘cancels medical freedoms’ which is against Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a slap on the Constitution of Malawi.

“MHRC has noted with concern Government’s announcement, through the Minister of Health, who is also Co-Chair of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, to introduce mandatory vaccination by January, 2022.

“According to the statement, this will affect all public servants, frontline workers, and those working in the social sector, including journalists. These new measures have direct impact on the enjoyment of human rights,” the MHRC quoting the government decree on mandatory COVID-19 vaccine.

Reacting to the Government plans of introducing mandatory vaccines, MHRC says: 
“These new measures have direct impact on the employment of human rights. A fundamental principle within international human rights law is that vaccinations, like any other medical interventions must be based on the recipient’s free and informed consent. Compulsory vaccination is an interference with the human right of bodily integrity, which is a part of the right to private life enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Ultimately, international law provides a strong indication that the right not to be subjected to medical treatment is an absolute right that cannot be limited. This ought to set a very high bar on any attempt to mandatory forms of medical treatment — including vaccination. Government should consider multiple interests, that is, individual human rights and collective rights – All protected by human rights law – and strike a fair balance between them,” the Commission adds.

The Commission further says Government must not substitute public health promotion campaigns with a mandate.

“In this regard, the Commission is not in support of mandatory Covid-19 vaccination as it violates fundamental human rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and other international human rights instruments, even if the issue of collective or public rights is brought into the equation.

“While the Commission has always supported voluntary vaccination, it is of the view that the public by now should be able to assess the greater benefits for itself in being vaccinated, and should weigh these benefits against defending their rights.

The Commission therefore advises Government to maintain its current position that Covid-19 vaccination is voluntary and embark on massive civic education and campaigns, aimed at demystifying the myths of vaccines so that people can make informed decisions regarding the vaccine. The strategy should aim at making as many people as possible access vaccination services voluntarily, and not by coercion,” the Commission’s Statement said.

Recently High and Supreme Courts in Kenya and USA have thrown out the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine describing them as gross violations of basic human rights.

The courts said, ‘vaccines must be available for all but not mandatory to people because individuals have a right to seek medical counsel from their private doctors in manner they want.”

Practically the MHRC Statement also ‘cancels’ Malawi Parliament decision to order its employees and Members of Parliament to show their COVID-19 Certificates before entering its premises.

Another Human Rights Body, the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives(CDEDI) also Tuesday, 21, 2021 through a Press Statement tore apart President Chakwera’s plans to issue mandatory COVID-19 vaccines to the citizens describing the move as ‘abominable sin’ contrary to the dictates of the Constitution of Malawi.

Recently COVID-19 cases have continued to spike in the country with numbers reaching close to a thousand per day.

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