Legal Link Executive Director Speaks up on NaCOVERC and SLCB Mandatory COVID Vaccination

Lawyer Rashid Dumbuya Executive Director of Legal Link Sierra Leone has called the decision of the National Covid Response Centre and the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank for mandatory vaccination as ‘wrong and misplaced.’

Dumbuya said this in a release issued titled “10 reasons as to why the public notices of NaCOVERC and Sierra Leone Commercial Banks on mandatory vaccinations are wrong and misplaced.”

The release called the decision by both NaCOVERC and SLCB to make informed decision regarding health issues in the country citing that the mandatory vaccination of mentioned in their release.

It says as an organization defending the rights of religious communities and vulnerable groups they have to make bold statements as the releases pose a danger to the enjoyment of fundamental humans with the states.

The release reads as follow:

Christian Lawyers Centre also known as LEGAL LINK has taken judicial notice of the public notices issued by NACOVERC and the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank regarding mandatory vaccinations and the public outcry and reactions over this blatant violation of their right to freedom of movement and their right to make informed decisions regarding issues of their health.

As an organization that defends the rights of religious communities and vulnerable groups in Sierra Leone, we make bold to say that the public notices issued by NACOVERC and the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank are not only wrong and misplaced but poses a clear and present danger to the enjoyment of fundamental human rights within the state.

While we acknowledge the good work that NACOVERC has done and is still doing regarding the fight against the Coronavirus, we at LEGAL LINK however take the greatest exception to NACOVERC’s forceful way of administering the Covid 19 vaccine and call upon both NACOVERC and the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank to withdraw their public notices forthwith and further do an open apology to the public regarding same.

In this press statement, LEGAL LINK has raised 10 robust, cogent, and convincing arguments as to why Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination is a wrong path to take by Nacoverc in dealing with the coronavirus.

Listed below are LEGAL LINK’s arguments.

1) Sierra Leone is no longer under a state of Public Health Emergency where fundamental human rights maybe limited at will and without deference for due process.

2) No precedent exists especially in the US or UK, (two progressive democratic nations that have been worst hit by the Coronavirus)* supporting mandatory vaccinations or restriction of people’s movement’s into public and business places unless they show proof of being vaccinated. If these countries that have been worst hit by the Coronavirus still have the proclivity to respect the fundamental human rights of their citizens, how much more Sierra Leone that has not even witnessed up to 300 deaths since the  Coronavirus outbreak?

3) The World Health Organization and the US Centre for Disease Control have never supported mandatory vaccinations. Their Covid -19 health guidelines have always referenced the need to secure the patient’s reasonable consent or that of his guardian if such consent cannot be practically obtained from the patient before vaccination is administered.

4) The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to which Sierra Leone is a party puts responsibilities on Businesses to respect human rights. The move therefore by Sierra Leone Commercial Bank to limit the movement of it’s staff and customers into the bank unless they show evidence that they had taken at least one dose of the vaccine amounts to a clear breach of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. *That decision by the bank may not only harm businesses but further pose a clear and present danger to the socio-economic and security wellbeing of the state.*

5) Mandatory Vaccination by the state will create the likelihood for violations of the right to health of citizens. The state has an obligation under international human rights law to respect the rights of it’s citizens. *This simply means that the state must refrain from interfering and/or curtailing the enjoyment of the rights of its citizens within the state.* Getting the consent of citizens before administering the Covid 19 vaccine shows respect for their fundamental human rights. *On the contrary, issuing borgus threats to limit movements of people into public buildings and banks if they refused to take the vaccine shows outright disrespect for their right to make informed decisions regarding their health.*

 

6) Invoking the exception under section 18 of the 1991 Constitution regarding the right to freedom of movement as a defense may be untenable outside of a State of Public Health Emergency and/ or Parliamentary approval. While it is true that the Freedom of movement guaranteed under section 18 can be limited on grounds of public health,  it is vital to hastily pinpoint that there’s an exception to the exception under section 18 of 1991 which reads thus:

…except in so far as that provision or as the case may be the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.

This means that for one to rely on the exceptions under section 18 as a defense, the thing done ought to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.

In our candid opinion as well as those from the majority of the public supported by international best practices, forcing Covid -19 vaccines on people against their wish or consent is an act that is unreasonable and unjustifiable in a democratic society. Hence, the exception under section 18 cannot be relied upon in this given circumstance by NACOVERC as a defense.

7) The Public Health Ordinance of 1960 only allows for restrictions of movement of persons into an “infected area”…The operative word in the Ordinance is “Infected area”. If public buildings and banks are not scientifically proven to be infected areas, then it will amount to a blatant violation of the fundamental human rights of citizens where such buildings and business places are restricted from people unless they show proof of being vaccinated.

8) The administration of health vaccines must always go with individual consent so that persons who take the vaccine may own up to the consequences should there be any side effects in the future on their health.

9) It is undisputable that the current COVID-19 vaccines are all on trials and have not been confirmed to being100 percent bulletproof against the virus….so why the fuss then? or why try to force it on people if it is clear that it is not bullet proof against the coronavirus?

10) It is anathematic and uncharacteristic of Democratic nations to roll out mandatory vaccination policies and programs without due process, approval, and consent of its citizens. It is authoritarian systems of government that force vaccines on their citizens within deference to their informed consent. Free, prior, and informed consent is one of the cherished hallmarks of a democratic society and since Sierra Leone is a democratic nation and not an autocratic one, the government must therefore respect its citizens rights to make informed decisions particularly on issues  related to their health.

In sum and based on the above points raised, LEGAL LINK, therefore, calls on  Nacoverc and Sierra Leone Commercial Bank to recall their public notices restricting access to public buildings and business places without proof of COVID-19 vaccination forthwith; and take steps to openly apologize to the public over this grave error of judgment and miscalculation.

If the above is not adhere to, LEGAL LINK will be left with no option but to institute legal actions both within and outside of the jurisdiction of Sierra Leone for violation of the fundamental human rights of citizens.

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