Following yesterday’s reporting on the European Court of Human Rights pro-vaccination ruling, we asked David McGrogan, associate professor of law at Northumbria Law School, to take a look at the stop in our place. It turns out that all was not what it seemed. Here is an exerpt:
A recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights has caused a bit of a stir, as it seems, as the headline on the BBC website says, to suggest that the court has ‘backed compulsory pre-school jabs’ . This immediately calls for pictures of small children forcibly vaccinated regardless of their parents’ will. As is often the case, however, the reality is much less dramatic. The Court’s decision is in reality only a faithful application of what must, perhaps unfortunately, be the correct legal position. However, this is an important case for Dateway readers wary of vaccinations, as it is a foretaste of the conclusion that a UK court would almost certainly come up under similar circumstances.
The case in question, Vavricka and Others v. Czech Republic (application no. a fine, and that preschools can only accept children who have received the vaccinations in question. The applicants, some of whom were parents fined for not allowing their children to be vaccinated, and some of whom had been refused places in preschools as children, argued inter alia that the consequences of the application of the law in question violated their rights under Article 8 of the Convention – namely the right to respect for their private life. The Court held that if there had been an interference with this right, it was justified as having been legally promulgated and being “necessary in a democratic society… for the protection of health” in accordance with this article.
It is important first to specify that the Court has absolutely not “supported compulsory jabs in nursery schools”. The Court’s decision was the appropriate and circumspect decision to take in the circumstances – that is, it is not for an international tribunal to overturn the decisions of national authorities who are accountable to their electorates, in principle, and these national authorities must therefore have a wide “margin of appreciation” in the way in which they choose to balance competing interests (these being here the right to privacy and the requirement to protect health ). The position in Czech law was a bit more normative than most of the other parties to the European Convention, but there were other governments (French, Polish and Slovak) which took similar positions, and so there was no real basis for concluding that the law in question was not “necessary in a democratic society”.
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