The Brussels court of first instance orders the Belgian state to comply with the law or to lift all health restrictions in force. The Minister of the Interior, Annelies Verlinden, announced to seize the Court of Appeal.
The Brussels Court of First Instance on March 31 ordered the Belgian state to review its legal provisions or to lift all anti-Covid measures introduced by ministerial decree on suspicion of unconstitutionality. The authorities have 30 days to comply with the law on pain of having to pay a fine of 5,000 euros per day of delay.
According to RTBF, the Belgian court order condemns the State, represented by its Minister of the Interior, to “take all the measures it deems appropriate to put an end to the situation of apparent illegality arising from the measures restricting fundamental rights and freedoms recognized by the Constitution […] contained in the ministerial decree of October 28, 2020 and its subsequent decrees ”.
The breaches denounced in the judgment relate in particular to the legal basis invoked by the Belgian State to pass emergency measures, namely the law of 15 May 2007 on civil security. The judgment explains that this legal basis is inappropriate and that this text “targets very specific situations which do not cover the situation of managing a pandemic”. It is also specified that “to argue that this law would provide a sufficient legal basis for the disputed ministerial decrees would amount to giving an ordinary enabling law a general scope identical to that which an enabling of special powers could have without the safeguards that exist. ‘surround’.
A judgment concerning federal and non-regional measures
As reported Echo, this judgment concerns all the measures taken at the federal level (wearing a mask, closing establishments, banning non-essential travel, social distancing, etc.) but not the curfews adopted at the regional level. To comply, the government will have to either pass a new law, or adopt a new ministerial decree on the basis of another law, or withdraw the measures currently in force.
For the lawyers of the League of Human Rights (LDH), Audrey Lackner and her colleague Audrey Despontin, this judgment is a historic victory. “We are delighted by this decision, it is an important day for the rule of law and for democracy, also delighted to see that the court found the measures illegal given the fact that the 2007 law does not is not made to handle a pandemic let alone for a year. It is therefore necessary that a law be created and that a parliamentary debate be organized ”, they declared. Moreover, it is the LDH which is at the origin of this court decision. At the end of February, the association had brought an interim action against the Belgian State in order to “put an end to the situation of apparent illegality”.
This decision, which puts the state at odds, seemed to be anticipated by the authorities, since the government has been working for several months on the development of a “pandemic” law which aims precisely to better legally frame the health measures taken in a context of pandemic. This law is currently being debated in committee in the House. Pending the examination and adoption of this text which could constitute a new recognized legal basis, the Minister of the Interior, Annelies Verlinden, indicated on March 31 to appeal this court decision. “Minister Annelies Verlinden has decided to immediately seize the Court of Appeal of Brussels and stresses that this recent decision does not mean that the current measures are no longer on the agenda”, it is specified in a press release.