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LETTERS: Freedom of expression

Saturday 5 February 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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LETTERS: Freedom of expression

Dear Editor, Bob Williams has critiqued Serena Hunter’s letters to the editor on the Covid vaccine.

He has claimed that her letters contain “untruths and half-truths”. 

We are not always going to think the same, its important to hear the other side and he has a responsibility to tell the public and specifically name those “untruths and half-truths” contained in the article so people can then decide for themselves. Her articles are about access to complete and full information provided for people in order for them to make informed decisions. 

Free speech is about open exchange of ideas and information, the right to express one’s opinion, to hold different beliefs and the way they are expressed.  To have respectful debates around issues without the fear of censorship or restraint is the kind of society we want to live in. It’s a basic human right.  

The Cook Islands Constitution contains provisions for fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms and recognises nondiscrimination, the right of the individual to equality before the law and to the protection of the law, life, liberty and security of the person, freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and freedom of speech and expression. Freedom of expression reinforces all other rights, includes right to challenge, oppose and protest to hold governments to account.   

Everyone has the right to decide what can be done with their own body. It’s called autonomy. Doctors need your consent to treat you. You must be able to understand the reasonable and foreseeable consequences of giving permission for consent or not giving consent to a procedure and informed of the alternative treatments. The protection of privacy and health conditions are confidential between an individual and their doctors. We should be asking ourselves; what are the long-term effects on health, safety and efficacy on the groups at risk; the aged, people with diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart conditions, autoimmune conditions? More people are likely to die from NCDs than from Covid. Every type of medicine has side effects and risks. The vaccine is not a medicine. What are the treatment options?   

My daughters have been raised to be critical and independent thinkers and not believe everything they hear or read without checking things out independently.   The articles written by Serena are to provide the public with information on the vaccine from credible international sources and encourages them to do their own research and to ask questions. 

People should be informed of the benefits and risks before they give informed consent. We need access to information from different sources with different points of view, without information we cannot make informed decisions.    

Lynnsay Rongokea Francis