Responding to yesterday’s announcement from the Minister of Government Services, Linda Reynolds, that everyone who has been vaccinated against COVID 19 will receive a digital certificate of proof potentially allowing them greater freedom of movement, Amnesty International Australia’s Campaign Strategist, Joel MacKay, said:
“We’ve already seen emergency measures to control the pandemic affect different parts of society unevenly. This digital vaccine certificate potentially does the same by creating three ‘classes’ of people – those who have been vaccinated, those who are not vaccinated through choice and those are not able to get vaccinated. This leads us to ‘vaccine apartheid’.
“Minister Reynolds said that by developing this digital certificate the Morrison Government is securing the health and safety of all Australians. But while the right to health and safety are of paramount importance, so is ensuring no one is discriminated against and this certificate could see those who cannot get vaccinated for health reasons lose their freedom of movement as well as lose access to healthcare, education and employment.
“In January, the World Health Organisation advised that states should not introduce such a requirement for proof of vaccination in order to travel internationally.
“While states are entitled to, and must, control their borders and the pandemic, such measures must be limited in duration, legal, reviewable by a country, non-discriminatory, based on scientific evidence while also taking into account other human rights.”
In addition, after the National Cabinet met on June 4, the Prime Minister said, “States and territories may consider the potential future value of COVID-19 digital certificates when considering automatic travel exemptions for interstate travel during state-determined lockdowns and travel restrictions.”
In response, MacKay said: “A voluntary state-based program could be even more of a threat to human rights. It will lead to disparate rules that set different human rights standards across the country. If there’s going to be a vaccine passport in Australia it needs to be national, and there needs to be a transparent implementation process that outlines how human rights (particularly of vulnerable people) will be protected”.