Amnesty International has criticized a recent declaration by the Kenyan government to deny unvaccinated citizens essential services.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi on Sunday urged Kenyans to ensure that they are fully vaccinated before December 21 after which they would be locked out of in-person government services. The services include Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Education, National Transport Service Authority (NTSA), Immigration, hospital and prison visitations and port services among others.
But in a statement to newsrooms, Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director Irungu Houghton urged authorities to abandon the coercive measures and instead accelerate effective education programmes to address misinformation hampering vaccine uptake.
“While there are legitimate public health reasons for as many people as possible to be vaccinated, these reasons should not deprive a person of their right to work, essential services including education, health and security, and their freedom of movement. These are all fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms,” Irungu said on Monday.
The human rights organization argues that it’s unrealistic for Kenya to adopt such strict measures considering that the threshold of Kenyans vaccinated is 8 per cent.
“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. Therefore. it is simply unrealistic for Kenya to go from 8.8 to 60 per cent within a month,” the statement reads.
“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 move, Irungu said, will lock out many Kenyans seeking key government services.
“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,” Irungu posed.
The organization warned that the move risks domesticating the global vaccine apartheid “and creating those with rights and those without.”
It further risks eroding public confidence gains in the COVID-19 vaccination efforts and encourage a mushrooming of fake vaccine certificates.
“This 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,” Irungu added.
The group is now calling on the government to develop a clear framework to reach the most vulnerable population of elderly persons and persons with pre-existing conditions, especially in historically marginalised regions and among pastoralist communities in the coast and northern Kenya.
— Amnesty Kenya (@AmnestyKenya) November 22, 2021