Human Rights Watch (HRW) has opposed Kenya’s move to require everyone seeking government services to be fully vaccinated.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mutahi Kagwe, had announced in November that the policy will go into effect on 21 December, 2021.
Based on this policy, proof of full Covid-19 vaccination will be required for public transportation, education, immigration, hospitals, and prison visitation. It will also be mandatory for entering national parks, hotels, and restaurants.
But HRW called on the country to amend the requirement to avoid undermining basic human rights to work, health, education, and social security for millions of citizens.
‘While the government has an obligation to protect its people from serious public health threats, the measures must be reasonable and proportional’, HRW Research Fellow, Adi Radhakrishnan, said in a statement.
‘Vaccination coverage hinges on availability and accessibility, and the government’s new measures could leave millions of Kenyans unable to get essential government services’.
HRW noted that under international human rights law, the Kenyan government has a duty to ensure the right to health for everyone, without discrimination.
HRW also noted that Kenya does not have a sufficient supply of Covid-19 vaccines to ensure that all adults can be vaccinated by the health ministry’s deadline.
‘The Kenyan government also has an obligation to ensure that any restrictive policies or measures do not arbitrarily bar people from accessing essential services or from meeting their basic needs’, the statement read.
‘The right to health includes an obligation to prevent and control epidemic disease, for which widespread vaccination is an important tool.
‘But the right to health applies to everyone, regardless of their vaccination status. Vaccine mandate should be designed with careful attention to social, political, and economic barriers people may face, including vaccine availability and accessibility issues’.
Kenya, like other low- and middle-income countries, especially in Africa, has struggled to access enough vaccines for its population.
Source: Human Rights Watch
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