Vaccine pass and human rights challenges

Strasbourg 04/05/2021
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At a time where vaccination campaigns are accompanied by a willingness to relax restrictions taken to protect public health against the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of a “vaccine pass” is being raised in Europe as well as in other parts of the world.

In a statement on human rights considerations relevant to a “vaccine pass” and similar documents, the Council of Europe Committee on Bioethics is calling for careful deliberation on the challenges raised by such a pass and on the steps taken to ensure that the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals are promoted and protected.

The Committee distinguishes between medical and non-medical purposes for the use of such "passes" and examines the ethical and human rights issues involved, taking into account the still limited scientific knowledge.

Referring to the statement of the Consultative Committee for the protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data, reference is made to issues relevant to privacy, as well as the use of such a pass for non-medical purposes, to the risk of discrimination and to the impact on social cohesion and solidarity.

Finally, the Committee on Bioethics concurs with the conclusions of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe that “combating the current pandemic depends, above all, on the increased efforts to produce and administer vaccines, with particular attention to people in vulnerable situations, so that restrictions to individual freedoms and constraints imposed can be progressively reviewed as the population acquires greater immunity, taking into account acquired scientific knowledge.”


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