Amnesty warns against mandatory vaccination approach

Amnesty says it is unrealistic for Kenya to expeditiously increase vaccine uptake.

In Summary

•Amnesty Executive Director Irũngũ Houghton has said reasons for getting the jab should not deprive a person of their rights.

•Amnesty says it is unrealistic for Kenya to expeditiously increase vaccine uptake.

President Uhuru Kenyatta.
President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Image: PSCU

Amnesty International Kenya has urged the government to use alternative ways to address vaccine uptake and not make it an ultimatum for services.

Amnesty Executive Director Irũngũ Houghton has said while there are legitimate reasons for people to be vaccinated, these reasons should not deprive a person of their right to work, essential services including education, health and security as well as their freedom of movement.

"These are all fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms. It should be noted that most countries introducing mandates for public and private facilities have already reached the 60-70 per cent threshold of vaccination," Houghton  said in a statement on Monday.

On Sunday, the Health ministry announced that Kenyans seeking in person government services will be required to show proof of full vaccination beginning December 21.

The services will include KRA, education, immigration, hospital and prison visitations, NTSA and port services.

This is in a move to boost uptake of Covid-19 vaccines in the country.

However, Amnesty says it is unrealistic for Kenya to expeditiously increase vaccine uptake from 8.8 to 60 per cent within a month.

"It should also be noted that the Government is on record as stating that it currently only has vaccine supplies for 15 per cent of the population and requires more human resources to reach all Kenyans," the Amnesty boss said.

"What, pray, will the Government do with those persons that cannot access vaccines and are locked out of essential services including health services? What will employers in the formal and informal sectors do when their employees cannot come to work in a month’s time?"

"This proposal risks domesticating the global vaccine apartheid and creating those with rights and those without."

He noted that the regulations risk eroding public confidence gains in the vaccination efforts and encourage a mushrooming of fake vaccine certificates.

Houghton  said the proposal falls short of international standards that state mandatory vaccination approaches that restrict fundamental rights and freedoms need to be legal, legitimate, necessary, time-bound and free from discrimination.

"We call on the government to instead develop a clear framework to reach the most vulnerable population of elderly persons and persons with pre-existing conditions especially in historically marginalized regions and among pastoralist communities in the coast and northern Kenya," he said.

Amnesty International further urges civil society organisations and business agencies to invest in voluntary uptake and public awareness campaigns to increase vaccination rates across the country.


Edited by CM

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star