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Forced vaccination is not okay under any circumstances: UN rights chief

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“Under no circumstances should people be forcibly vaccinated,” said Michelle Bachelet.

Geneva:

The UN rights chief said on Wednesday that countries considering introducing vaccine mandates in the fight against COVID-19 should ensure they respect human rights, stressing that forced vaccination is never acceptable. Was.

Speaking at a Human Rights Council symposium via video message, Michelle Bachelet warned that there were important rights considerations that should be taken into account before making vaccination mandatory.

Any “vaccine mandate must adhere to the principles of legitimacy, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination”, she said, according to a transcript.

“Under no circumstances should people be forcibly vaccinated.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the objectives sought by countries considering the mandate to protect lives were “of the highest order of legitimacy and importance” as they battle a fierce escalation in the pandemic in Europe and other regions.

But he insisted that “vaccine mandates should be enforced only when necessary to achieve essential public health”.

“And they should be considered only if less intrusive measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing have failed to meet such health needs.”

He also emphasized that for any mandate to be acceptable, countries need to ensure that vaccines are indeed available and affordable.

“Unless all people have real, practical access to vaccines, vaccine requirements will not be in line with fundamental human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination,” she said.

Bachelet also highlighted that “actual vaccines employed must also be sufficiently safe and effective to achieve public health objectives.”

Any mandatory vaccination regime also needs to be flexible enough to allow “reasonable exceptions, such as where vaccination is medically contra-indicated to an individual”.

Bachelet said it may be appropriate to restrict certain rights and freedoms on vaccination, including conditioning access to schools, hospitals or other public places.

But forced injection was never acceptable, she said, “even though a person’s refusal to comply with a mandatory vaccination policy could result in other legal consequences, for example, appropriate fines”.

“Where penalties are imposed, they should be proportionate and subject to review by judicial authorities,” she said.

“There is a need for appropriate procedural safeguards, including the right to obtain reasonable exemptions and the right to appeal any form of punishment before an impartial and independent authority,” he stressed.

Looking ahead, the UN rights chief said any vaccine mandates introduced “should be subject to repeated official review to ensure they remain necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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