A Dozen Lawsuits Challenge Legality of Pandemic-Fighting Measures

Total Croatia News


May 20, 2020 — Croatia’s Civil Protection Directorate successfully kept the coronavirus pandemic at bay. But did it break constitutional law in the process?

Legal entities and private citizens submitted proposals asking the Constitutional Court to assess the legality of Croatia’s pandemic-fighting measures.

There is no timeline for the court’s response. Croatia entered the political and procedural noman’s land when it dissolved parliament and called for elections.

A dozen lawsuits before the constitutional court as a whole challenge the directorate’s decisions, putting a spotlight on the uneasy tradeoff between a rapid response to a crisis and following prescribed procedures.

The government and members of the directorate argue a speedy response to save human lives trumps procedural hurdles. But claimants in the suit argue limits on movement and forced closures encroach on constitutional rights.

Seven of the 12 lawsuits contend limits of movement within the country passed on March 23 broke with constitutional rights. The complaints contend such measures can only be passed by a parliamentary vote.

Another two complaints contend limits on social gatherings, work, and service activities meant to limit the number of people allowed to congregate in one spot. The plaintiffs contend the measures forced them out of business, impinging upon their constitutional freedoms as entrepreneurs — including the right to work and the right to earn.

A final set of complaints contends limits on funeral gatherings, passed on March 20, as well as the ban on crossing the border.

Perhaps the most contentious ties to an indirect bailout the media industry, which was laced into measures passed to preserve jobs.

The court’s decisions will last well into the coming phases of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as other emergencies.

Parliamentary Speaker Gordan Jandroković dismissed concerns about the constitutionality of the directorate’s maneuvers, predicting the court would dismiss any complaints — if anyone even bothered filing them.

Numerous legal experts, including a member of the court itself, warned from the beginning that the National Civil Protection Directorate’s decisions ran afoul of the Croatian Constitution.

Judge Andrej Abramović argued the Civil Protection Directorate lacked the constitutional authority to pass and enforce its decisions.

Abramovic said amendments to the Civil Protection System Act passed by Parliament on March 18 introduced the concept of “occurrence of special circumstances” even though the description of “special circumstances” is identical in substance to the state of “catastrophe” that the law already contains. “Why did the government not declare the disaster foreseen by law?

“Detaining people in their own homes without testing puts them in a precarious position: neither healthy nor sick, they are stigmatized to the extent of being threatened by most,” he wrote.

The text included comparisons between the pandemic response and the war. The judge 

They contend the Government only retroactively regulated the status of the members of the Headquarters, with parliament passing a special law giving them the authority to make decisions on-the-fly.


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