Belgium’s curfew is constitutional after all, correctional court rules
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Belgium’s curfew is constitutional after all, correctional court rules

Credit: Belga

On Tuesday, the Charleroi correctional court overturned on appeal the much-discussed verdict of a police court questioning the legality of Belgium’s coronavirus curfew, confirming that it is constitutional after all.

On 21 September, the Charleroi police court ruled that Belgium’s curfew measure was unconstitutional, a verdict that the public prosecutor’s office immediately appealed against.

The correctional court has now annulled the verdict, announced Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne and Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden in a joint press release.

“After the Council of State had repeatedly established that the ministerial decrees with the Covid-19 measures have a sufficient legal basis, a court of appeal has now confirmed this once again,” Verlinden said. “The law of 15 May 2007 does allow us to take all necessary measures in the current exceptional circumstances.”

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In the past year, the Council of State has confirmed the legality of the government’s measures more than 30 times, according to the ministers.

In three cases, the Council of State did not do so because the decisions were insufficiently motivated. “In each case, the competent government took up the objections and the measures were adapted to be in line with the Council of State’s judgement.”

“This proves that the measures are legally sound,” said Van Quickenborne. “These are measures that a government does not like to take but they are necessary to protect our health. They are imposed with respect for constitutional freedoms, as it should be in a state governed by the rule of law.”

On Wednesday, however, three of Belgium’s most senior lawyers published an open letter calling on parliament to open up a full debate about the way “freedom-restricting rules” are being implemented during the pandemic, stating that they are “extremely concerned about this erosion of the rule of law.”

According to them, “the explosive cocktail of corona standards leads to a perception of lawlessness and arbitrariness, and is a breeding ground for populism and conspiracy theories.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times