By Mary Holland, CHD General Counsel and Vice Chair
Relatively few Americans realize that lawsuits related to human rights in Europe can ultimately be heard in an international court, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). People must first file cases regarding their individual rights in their home countries, but if they have exhausted domestic remedies and are still dissatisfied, they can sue their country in the ECHR – and sometimes win, often changing policies across the 49 countries subject to the ECHR’s jurisdiction.
The ECHR’s Grand Chamber for especially important cases is now reviewing the issue of compulsory vaccine mandates for school attendance in member countries. The case the Court will decide arises from a vaccine mandate law in the Czech Republic. Families opposed to compulsory vaccination sued, raising several human rights concerns under the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights: Article 8, respect for family life; Article 9, freedom of conscience; and Article 2 of Protocol 1 to the Convention, the right to education. The petitioners also raise the issue of informed consent to a medical intervention, arguing that compulsory vaccination violates the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (the Oviedo Convention).
With the assistance of Senta Depuydt and the European Forum for Vaccine Vigilance, Children’s Health Defense was able to submit a “friend of the court” brief on this matter. The Grand Chamber is scheduled to have a public hearing on the case on April 30, 2020 in Strasbourg, France, assuming that pandemic measures do not postpone it.
Children’s Health Defense strongly supports the rights of individuals to make voluntary choices regarding vaccines. The CHD brief cites the Nuremberg Code and the 2005 UNESCO Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. It also touches on the lack of proven safety and efficacy, religious rights, conflicts of interest, discrimination, questionable science, censorship, risk of genomic change, risk of unintended genocide, and liability as critical concerns that strongly weigh against vaccine mandates.