The “No Jab, No Job” move by the private sector has prompted the Ombudsman Commission to call on the private sector to act with caution when it comes to the constitutional rights of citizens regarding mandatory vaccination imposed by private sector.
The Ombudsman Commission has noted with concern that more and more organisations, especially the private sector, have imposed No Jab, No Job policies in their workplaces which borders on the rights of citizens who have chosen not to be vaccinated.
“Whilst the Commission is mindful of the private sector’s rights and obligation to protect their businesses, we urge them to come up with arrangements that does not infringe on people’s right to choose.
People must have a choice and that choice must not be taken away from them,” said the Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen.
The Commission is urging the private sector to explore all possible avenues to protect the rights of employees who choose not to take the vaccine.
The Ombudsman Commission does not have jurisdiction over the private sector, but as a supervisor of public administration, it is committed to the protection of constitutional rights of the citizens of the Country.
And even though it (the Ombudsman Commission) does not have a specific mandate on human rights enforcement, it however has the mandate to inquire into matters of discrimination pursuant to Section 21 S (b) and Section 219 (I) (c) of the Constitution.
This anti-discrimination and equal opportunity jurisdiction is an added source of the mandate that gives the Ombudsman Commission the responsibility to supervise the enforcement of these constitutional rights which falls squarely within its general jurisdiction.
Hence, the Ombudsman Commission maintains that it is important to prevent discrimination happening to the citizens of Papua New Guinea in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The Commission is also calling on relevant government authorities dealing with private companies and entities to ensure that they are aware of their actions when it comes to people’s right and freedoms.
“The Ombudsman Commission is fully aware that PNG is a signatory to several core Human Rights Treaties and that it’s National Constitution is very unique that it almost contains all the rights and freedoms enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. As a signatory to these UN Human Rights Treaties and Conventions, we as a Country have an obligation to assist our citizens to ensure that their rights and freedoms are not taken away and that their choices are respected,” said the Chief Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman Commission urges all who have been affected by the vaccines mandates or have been treated unfairly at work to lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman Commission.