Constitutional Complaint Being Prepared Against Croatian Civil Protection Directorate

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, members of the Croatian event industry have stated that while they are aware that the danger of infection exists and that they don’t question the need for epidemiological measures, they believe that those measures must be accompanied by the rights guaranteed by the Croatian Constitution.

“The current epidemiological measures significantly encroach on our rights guaranteed by the Constitution,” their statement said.

They claim that the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate, in its decisions and recommendations, violates the following norms prescribed by the Croatian Constitution:

1. Equality in treatment,

2. The rule of proportionality, ie the real danger of infection at public gatherings and the prescribed measures,

3. Entrepreneurial and market freedoms as the basis of economic structure and the guarantee of equal legal position on the market, and finally the right to work and earn an income as guaranteed by the Constitution.

“For all these reasons, and to try to prevent the collapse of our industry, we have no choice but to file a constitutional complaint against the decisions of the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate,” they say.

They have also provided examples of just some of the illogical Croatian measures, citing several examples that they claim prove the measures are unconstitutional. Example number one is:

“According to the current epidemiological regulations, a group of catering and hospitality facilities on the Split waterfront (riva) can accommodate a total of over 500 people on their terraces, while at an organised and controlled event, such as a nautical fair, on the same waterfront on the other side with five to six times the space, we can only have up to 25 people. It’s a fair of a specific character with non-mass visits, and the visitors walk around the ships and their equipment. We wonder where there is equality in treatment lies here, or where there is proportionality in the application of these restrictions.”

Example number two is:

“Currently, all shopping centres, unlike our industry, are allowed to operate, and according to the prescribed measures, they can accommodate from 1,000 to 5,045 people in their indoor spaces, while we can only accommodate 25 people at our events on the same square footage, which are also held outdoors.

Where’s the proportionality if, according to all statistical analyses conducted so far, we know that this infection spreads in the open air at a percentage of 0.01 to 0.1 percent? Therefore, the epidemiological conditions for organising outdoor events should be much milder than those which govern people gathering indoors in shopping centres, and as you can see from the above examples, it turns out that they’re hundreds of times stricter, and of course applying such rules and recommendations violates our entrepreneurial freedom in a disproportionate and unequal way.”

As a third example, they cite:

“In public transport (buses and trams), which cover a space of approximately 30 to 60 m2, 20 to 80 people can sit or stand in a confined space. A minimum of 20 students are sitting in classrooms no larger than 40m2 for 5 or more hours, again indoors, and we in the event industry and in the 50 times larger outdoor open space are still limited to 25 people per event. It isn’t only an issue of constitutional rights, but also one which involved some common sense,” they say.

As a final example, they state:

“Currently, in all premises of economic entities, offices, workshops, halls, etc., depending on the number of employees, up to several thousand people work indoors, while in our country there is a limit of 25 people at open/outdoor events.

In this case, our property rights, market and entrepreneurial freedom are placed in an unequal position. While some can work in fairly normal conditions, we’re completely blocked, we’re completely banned from working, because it’s unprofitable to organise events for a mere 25 people.”

They claim that their rights guaranteed by the Croatian Constitution have been revoked in a “disproportionate, unequal and discriminatory manner without a valid explanation and adequate financial compensation for the damage they have suffered and continue to suffer”.

They are demanding an urgent adjustment of the anti-epidemic measures set by the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate.

“We aren’t even able to cover our minimum overhead costs, regardless of the fact that our industry is the most limited of all industries in terms of work and entrepreneurial activity. This situation is simply no longer sustainable. More and more successful companies from our industry are giving up on it all because there’s no longer a basis for borrowing to maintain the status quo.

We demand an urgent adaptation of the measures to the real situation and the current situation, and respect for our constitutionally guaranteed rights, which have so far been grossly violated without any need. Let us work, let the music play,” they conclude.

For more on the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate and coronavirus in Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.


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