The United Democratic Party (UDP) Shadow Minister of Justice, Senator Darrell Bradley, has objected to the government’s ostensible proposal to move towards mandatory vaccination.
Bradley’s reaction follows this week’s Cabinet Brief which reported that “Cabinet requested the Attorney General [to] seek medical expertise from the Ministry of Health and Wellness to explore all necessary legal measures that the government may lawfully implement to help contain the spread of COVID-19, including options to implement mandatory Coronavirus vaccinations for both the public and private sectors or require vaccination passes for the use of public spaces and for business facilities.”
Writing on behalf of the UDP’s Parliamentary Caucus, Bradley said that while they support and applaud the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program, including their public relations campaign, they wished to place on the record that they vehemently oppose any efforts to make taking the vaccine mandatory.
According to the Caucus, they have already secured a legal team of advisors to look into the legalities of mandating the vaccine and will be mounting a legal challenge against the government if needed.
Bradley, speaking with the Reporter on Thursday, said, “To my knowledge, it is going to be a very dangerous step for the government to take if they forcibly require individuals to put something in their body. I don’t believe that in the modern era any government has ever done that. Even when you look at the situation the COVID numbers globally are very high but it doesn’t meet the standard to actually take this kind of drastic measures. Maybe [this would be appropriate] if the death rates were higher. We run into a very dangerous game when you require a person to take a vaccine. You could do other things but we cannot be mandated by law to put something into our body.”
Bradley then went on to explain that mandatory vaccination for the public presents some very serious and troubling constitutional violations. He said that even if the law is passed there will be individuals that will still refuse to take the vaccine and so he is asking what will be the government’s response to that. Bradley concluded that a move like that would create unrest in an already poor and marginalized country where the poor people are the ones that are feeling the brunt of the restrictions already in place.
The Cabinet request to the Attorney General comes on the heels of the detection of the highly contagious and transmissible Delta variant in the country, which has been suspected of causing a surge in COVID-19 cases and spiraling the country into a third wave.
Back in November of 1943, the Government of Belize, under the Public Health Act had mandated the use of mandatory vaccines for the public in an effort to control the spread of Small Pox at the time. Persons who opposed taking the vaccines committed an offense and were fined twenty-five dollars or face three months imprisonment. When we asked Bradley what and if there are any differences between the two he explained that those were antiquated laws that had worked in the past but will not work in a modern era without constitutional challenges