Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) expresses concern over Covid-19 mandatory vaccination in Malawi
According to the statement, 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.
MALAWI: The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) says is against government's intention of introducing Covid-19 mandatory vaccination to all public servants, frontline workers, and those working in the social sector including journalists.
MHRC says the move has a direct impact on the enjoyment of human rights - contravening fundamental principles within international human rights.
According to the commission, the fundamental principle within international human rights law is that vaccines like any other medical interventions must be based on the recipient's free and informed consent.
In a statement issued on 21st December 2021, the Commission's Chairperson, Scader Louis, has indicated that compulsory vaccination is an interference with human rights bodily integrity, which is part of the right to private life enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"The Commission has noted with great concern, Government's announcement, through the Minister of Health, who is also Co-chair of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, to introduce mandatory vaccination by January of 2022," reads the statement in part.
Malawi's Health Minister cum co-chair for Covid-19 Presidential Task Force, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda on Friday, 17th December 2021, in a presser announced new Covid-19 prevention measures which included intentions of introducing Covid-19 mandatory vaccination to all public servants, frontline workers, those working in the social sector and those who only got their first jab of Covid-19 vaccine and never returned for the second one to be fully vaccinated, who will be traced through the information they provided when they went to the first jab.
In response, the MHRC has said 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 light bar on any attempt to mandatory forms of medic 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,” reads the MHRC statement, in part.
According to the statement, 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 is collective of human rights is brought into the equation.
"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 weigh those benefits against defending their rights," reads MHRC statement in part
MHRC has since advised the 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 make informed decisions regarding the vaccine.
“The strategy should aim at making as many people as possible access vaccination services voluntarily and not coercion. The Commission is not convinced that all efforts have been exhausted by the State and other actors to educate the people on the need for and working of the vaccines to convince them to voluntarily vaccinate,” reads part of the statement.
The Commission has urged the government to fully satisfy the six World Health Organization (WHO) Ethics and Covid-19 Working Group preconditions which are: vaccine safety; efficacy and effectiveness; necessity and proportionality; sufficient supply; public trust; and ethical processes of decision making to necessitate any decision for the introduction of mandatory Covid-19 vaccination.
"For example - can the Government prove that it can vaccinate every person who needs the vaccine when a mandate is introduced? Can the Government demonstrate that it has so far put up the best and comprehensive public education on the Covid-19 vaccine? Can the Government demonstrate that it has put in place an exception to the mandate that takes into consideration of non-derogable rights such as Freedom of conscience in belief? Can the Government demonstrate that it has done thorough, transparent consultation and engagement with the relevant stakeholders including affected parties such as non-vaccinated and vulnerable groups before arriving at introducing a mandate? Only if the answer to these questions is in the affirmative, can the Government consider introducing mandatory vaccination,” says the MHRC statement.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, 21st December of 2021, political activist, Bon Kalindo, echoed MHRC's statement as he spoke against the Covid-19 mandatory vaccination.
On the same day, 21st December of 2021, the Parliament of Malawi issued a statement signed by its Clerk, Fiona Kalemba, which indicates parliament has adopted the reviewed rules and regulations agreed by a business meeting held on 1st December in a context of revolving regional and global situations.
According to the statement, all lawmakers, Staff, contractors, and members of the general public accessing parliament premises should show valid Covid-19 full vaccination certificate at all access gates to the building as proof of the Covid-19 vaccination and all that are unable to show a valid Covid-19 vaccination full-vaccination card and opt not to access the vaccine, will be required to undergo a rapid antigen test daily for the period of access to the premises, without exception, at their own cost and return negative results.
“The Malawi Human Rights Commission, therefore, finds mandatory vaccination not only intrusive and coercive but also a violation of human rights. This measure can also be considered if voluntary mechanics have failed which is not the case at the moment. All efforts must be made by the Government and all its partners to propagate the benefits of accessing Covid-19 vaccines for the greater good of every Malawian,” concludes MHRC statement