Rights of unvaxxed individuals to access to basic services, vs arrests and detention must be ensured

Photo by George Calvelo/ABS-CBN News

The rights of unvaccinated individuals to access basic and essential services and against arrest, detention and disproportionate use of force should be upheld at all times, human rights alliance Karapatan asserted, as the Metro Manila Council signed a resolution urging local government units to enact ordinances restricting the mobility of unvaccinated individuals and President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncements citing possibility of arrests and jail time for unvaccinated individuals who leave their homes.

“There may be some restrictions during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic but nonetheless, these restrictions should be proportional and non-discriminatory as outlined in international human rights instruments and norms. Prohibiting access to basic services such as public transportation and threats of possible arrests and detention of unvaccinated individuals if they go out of their homes are certainly highly questionable policies that violate their rights,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

Palabay continued that “with the various reported cases of abuses in the implementation of quarantine protocols, restrictions on certain rights in the name of public health are not free passes for violence, arbitrary arrests, and other human rights violations.”

“Vaccination is an integral component of any pandemic response, and we urge the public to get their shots as soon as possible. Nonetheless, unvaccinated individuals and the rising number of COVID-19 cases should be a wake-up call for the government to address the pandemic through a scientific, pro-people and rights-based response,” she averred.

“The government must comprehensively combat vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaccine disinformation and heed the urgent calls for free mass testing, systematic contact tracing, treatment and sufficient subsidy and aid for affected households. To effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the people’s right to health must be upheld at all times,” the Karapatan official ended.