CAJ concerned vaccine passport app could discriminate and be ID card by stealth
CAJ has urged the NI Executive to consider the human rights implications of requiring people in Northern Ireland to carry a vaccine ‘passport’ to prove they have been immunised against Covid-19.
We have analysed the proposals for a ‘digital certificate’ of vaccination, which are being discussed by the UK Government and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland. It is unclear at present if these passports will apply solely to international travel or have far wider applications than this. For example, the current proposed approach does not rule out the possibility that they might be applied to travel restrictions within the UK, or be demanded by private businesses, such as pubs or shops, or by one’s employer.
CAJ believes that not only would a vaccination app interfere with the right to a private life, but it could also discriminate against those who are, for whatever reason, unable to be vaccinated. There is also the danger of ‘mission creep’, which could lead to the passports being used in contexts not originally intended.
While interference with human rights can be justified if is proven to be for a legitimate aim, this only applies if the government produces clear evidence to demonstrate that the measures in question are necessary and proportionate.
Brian Gormally, Director of CAJ, said: “Do we really want to be forced to produce ID, containing personal health data, before we can go to the pub, eat in a restaurant and perhaps go to work or enter a shop? And what about those who cannot be vaccinated through illness or disability – are they to be further excluded from normal society?
“We know that vaccination against certain diseases is already necessary for travel to some countries, and a system confined to international travel might be more acceptable. However, once we accept a digital identity card there is always the danger of ‘mission creep’ and we might have to show it to access all kinds of social facilities.
“A court would have to decide whether a vaccination app was actually unlawful, but we would urge the Executive to consider very carefully before agreeing any kind of vaccination passport or app.”
A detailed briefing on the human rights implications for a vaccination app is available via this link. The briefing analyses these proposals in the light of the Human Rights Act and the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.
Please direct media enquiries to Robyn Scott, Communications & Equality Coalition Coordinator on firstname.lastname@example.org or 075 1994 1203.
CAJ Director Brian Gormally is available for interview. Email email@example.com.