Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) says government’s silence on institutions requesting their employees to be vaccinated for them to go to work should make those affected to seek court redress.
The sentiments follow recent positions taken by several companies and organizations’ advising their employees to be vaccinated or work from home which he stated is unacceptable from a human rights perspective.
In an interview monitored on Capital Radio, CHRR executive Director Micheal Kaiyatsa personally advised those affected to go to court.
“We’ve come to a situation where the courts should make its stand clear on the matter. Am saying the courts should be the option that we should go to considering that government is also not committal on this matter yet the Ministry of health and other health officials including members of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 have made it clear of course in the past that COVID-19 is not mandatory. It is not compulsory, people have a choice; however we had expected that this message will be reinforced considering the position that companies and organizations are adopting.
“So the silence or the lack of commitment from the government on this matter requires that people who are affected should simply go to court and let the court decide on this matter” he enthused
Malawi Electoral Commission and TNM Plc. are some of the institutions which took positions on the matter followed by FINCA which came up with an incentive for vaccinated employees to be given a K20, 000 shopping voucher.
Kaiyatsa expressed fear the development would derail the nation’s drive to get more people vaccinated and erode the gains made.
“You cannot force somebody to undertake or to receive vaccination against their will. I think we need to make it clear that is unacceptable, it’s inconsistent with human rights principles. Of course currently we are in a pandemic and everybody understands that and there is need for urgent measures. However urgent measure in this case does include forcing people to get vaccinated.
“We believe that forcing people is actually going to threaten the national campaign to get more people vaccinated because remember where we’re coming from as a country; we’re coming from a situation where a lot of people had misgivings about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There were so many misconceptions, rumours, myths flying around so many conspiracy theories and it had taken as a country to sensitize the masses to understand the benefits of the vaccine”
“So if we are to make it compulsory it means people will go back to those misgivings and it would really roll back the gains that we have made”
He indicated the best thing for companies and government is continued sensitization to the masses on vaccine benefits and not forcing them to get it.
Realizing the complexity of the issue, Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) is currently consulting different and relevant stakeholders on the way forward.
Through the process, it intends to see how this can be managed from a human rights perspective and is yet to determine the timeframe on how long the consultation will last.
The Commission believes a tangible and realistic beneficial position for the enjoyment and protection of human rights for all will be realized.
Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda is on record to have indicated that government is still consulting on the matter before coming up with a stand.