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Court challenge for vaccinate-by-decree move

Mohloai Mpesi

Top lawyers have stood up to challenge the enforced vaccination to the public this week.

This is after the Prime Minister, Dr Moeketsi Majoro announced in his National Address speech on Monday that no one shall be rendered services unless they produce a vaccination certificate to prove they have taken the jab.

Majoro continued that all employers in the country should ensure that their employees are vaccinated or risk getting a fine to the tune of M5000 or be jailed for a month, or both. While the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) issued a government gazette authorizing an enforcement of the terms made by the premier yesterday.

In response to same, some lawyers in the country have sought to challenge the gazette made by the government, citing that it violates human rights as “every adult has to be given an opportunity to consent or to refuse.”

In an interview with Newsday, Advocate Letuka Molati, said that they are going to challenge the gazette because it stands against the fundamental human rights.   

“We are going to court and we have already drafted the papers, we are only trying to find a copy of the Gazette which we did not get at the government printing,” he said adding that Section 13 of the Constitution proffers that “…everyone in Lesotho is entitled, whatever his race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status to fundamental human rights and freedoms, that is to say, to each of the following; freedom of conscience.

“Nothing contained or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health.”

He said even though people have these fundamental rights, but along the way they can be restricted if it is in the interest of defence, public order, public health et al.   

“But when we talk of public health, that everybody be vaccinated, we now have to consider competing rights; the right to be vaccinated and the right not be, which is a freedom to choice,” he stressed adding that the manufacturers of the vaccines are protected by the law, therefore cannot be sued or take responsibility over the deaths or severe illness caused by the vaccine.

“If an adult person makes a deliberate decision to be vaccinated it’s good, and if he or she makes a decision not to be vaccinated, it is also fine. Allow them their freedom.

“According to an article written by CNBC, one cannot sue Pfizer or Moderna if they have severe Covid vaccine side effects. The government likely won’t compensate you for damages either,” he said.

The article reads that, “Under the PREP Act, companies like Pfizer and Moderna have total immunity from liability if something unintentionally goes wrong with their vaccines.”

The 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act empowers the Health and Human Service Secretary to provide legal protection to companies making or distributing critical medical supplies, such as vaccines and treatments, unless there’s “wilful misconduct” by the company. The protection lasts until 2024.

“The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREPA) passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President of the United States George W. Bush in December 2005 is a controversial tort liability shield intended to protect vaccine manufacturers from financial risk in the event of a declared public health emergency.

“The Act specifically affords to drug makers immunity from actions related to the manufacture, testing, development, distribution, administration and use of medical countermeasures against chemicals, biological, radiological and nuclear agents of terrorism, epidemics, and pandemics.

“PREPA strengthens and consolidates the oversight of litigation against pharmaceutical companies under the purview of the secretary of Health and Human Services. PREPA provides $2.8 billion for pandemic influenza preparedness to protect public health in the case of a pandemic disease outbreak,” the report reads.

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