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Should prisoners be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine rollout in SA?

13 January 2021 9:21 AM
Tags:
Prisoners
Prisons
Covid-19 vaccine rollout
Phase 2 covid-19 vaccine rollout

Clare Ballard of Lawyers for Human Rights outlines why prisoners are such a vulnerable group and have the right to health care.

CapeTalk listeners called and messaged on Tuesday responding to President Ramaphosa's address to the nation on Monday night, in which he stated that during phase 2 of the vaccine rollout, prisoners will also be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccinations, in the same category as teachers and other frontline workers.

Listeners felt that it was unfair for criminals to be pushed ahead of taxpayers.

Among those who will be prioritised for vaccination during phase 2 of the rollout, those in prisons will be included, along with teachers, police, municipal workers and other frontline workers. A number of people have objected to the inclusion of prisoners ahead of taxpayers.

Clare Ballard, an attorney and programme manager at Lawyers for Human Rights talks to Refilwe Moloto about why prisoners should be included in the phase 2 vaccine rollout.

Ballard notes that prisoners' have all the rights any ordinary citizen has except those that have to be relinquished on account of being incarcerated.

The obvious one in that respect is liberty. It is not health.

Clare Ballard, Attorney - Lawyers for Human Rights

Prisoner rights to health care are deeply entrenched in the Constitution she says.

If prisoners are a vulnerable group, which I think we have to agree that they are, then they must be entitled to adequate health care.

Clare Ballard, Attorney - Lawyers for Human Rights

They are not ordinary citizens in the sense that they are wholly dependent on the State for all of their needs. They are not equipped as you and I would be, or even an impoverished person, to take certain precautions like social distancing

Clare Ballard, Attorney - Lawyers for Human Rights

We have run this gauntlet with tuberculosis. We know what airborne infectious diseases do in poorly ventilated overcrowded environments and to prevent a humanitarian crisis I think it is essential that they are vaccinated.

Clare Ballard, Attorney - Lawyers for Human Rights

I understand the anger and I am happy to discuss that.

Clare Ballard, Attorney - Lawyers for Human Rights

We are on dangerous terrain when we withhold vaccinations to certain people who are vulnerable because they are vulnerable. We are then withholding care as a form of punishment.

Clare Ballard, Attorney - Lawyers for Human Rights

Not all those who are in our prisons have been found guilty of a crime, Ballard notes.

An inmate refers to anyone who is in a correctional facility, those awaiting trial, and those convicted. Awaiting trial facilities are often the most overcrowded.

Clare Ballard, Attorney - Lawyers for Human Rights

Listen to the interview below:


13 January 2021 9:21 AM
Tags:
Prisoners
Prisons
Covid-19 vaccine rollout
Phase 2 covid-19 vaccine rollout

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