Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccines Legal, Say Two Caribbean Legal Luminaries

(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – Two of the Caribbean’s leading legal minds have opined that there is nothing to stop regional governments and private sector entities from enforcing mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.

In a brief prepared for Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States heads of government, former president of the Caribbean Court of Justice Sir Dennis Byron, and Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, former president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said they are convinced that a compulsory requirement for the COVID-19 vaccine is generally justifiable in law — whether constitutionally, or in the private sector.

“The current legal framework, including jurisprudence, be it by analogy, or from the fast emerging specific case-law, does support it,” said the brief.

The two legal luminaries also opined that private sector entities are within their right to mandate that their employees be vaccinated or provide regular negative COVID-19 test results.

The most important premise for compulsory vaccines in the private sector is that under the common law and via statute, both employers and employees have over-riding general duties of care to maintain a safe work environment and to protect the safety and health of employees, co-workers and even, in certain circumstances, the public.

“In fact, this duty is a specific term of the contract of employment, whether express, statute-based, or implied,” added the two in the brief.

But they noted that, “the validity of a compulsory response to vaccination depends, of course, on the assumption that vaccines are available to the public at large”.