Belgium's 'unconstitutional' curfew to be brought before Constitutional Court

Belgium's 'unconstitutional' curfew to be brought before Constitutional Court
Credit: Belga

The 'Geen vodje papier' collective who said Belgium's coronavirus curfew is unconstitutional wants to take the case to the Constitutional Court, after the Council of State rejected their appeal against the measure.

The initiative, dubbed ‘Geen vodje papier,‘ (Dutch for ‘Not a mere scrap of paper’) in reference to the constitution, was set-up by Karin Verelst, a doctor in philosophy, and Jan De Groote, a legal expert, who said that the curfews "raise eyebrows" as they are "unconstitutional."

The collective points out that, contrary to the impression given by Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden, the Council of State has not declared the curfew constitutional.

Since the Council of State declared the request admissible, the collective said, it wishes to continue the proceedings.

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The Council of State is the legal body which deals with cases questioning the legality of the decisions of all levels of government. Normally, governments also submit their legislative proposals for scrutiny before they become law.

"During these proceedings, we shall present the Council of State with a preliminary ruling of the Constitutional Court - as this is the appropriate channel for resolving the case, in its own view," the collective said in a statement.

Belgium's Constitutional Court is a special court that monitors compliance with the division of powers between the federal state, the communities and the regions on the one hand and compliance with constitutional rights on the other.

According to 'Geen vodje papier,' the Council of State states that, given the seriousness of the health crisis, the 2007 Civil Security Act provides a sufficient legal basis for the Ministerial Decrees on the curfew.

"However, this contradicts the conclusions of the Auditor General in his report, who acknowledged its problematic legal basis, but passed the hot potato on to the Constitutional Court," said the collective.

According to them, the Council of State is, for the time being, "giving complete freedom of action to the government, which is implementing a de facto state of emergency policy."

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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