Possible Dutch curfew suspension won’t change things for Belgium

Possible Dutch curfew suspension won’t change things for Belgium
Credit: Belga

A ruling by a Dutch court to immediately lift the Netherlands' curfew measure has been suspended until the end of the week, and is not expected to have an impact in Belgium.

On Tuesday, a court in The Hague ruled that the Dutch curfew measure - which forbids anyone without a valid reason from being outside between 9:00 PM and 4:30 AM - had to be lifted immediately, as it was based on the wrong law.

However, the Dutch government appealed against the decision, and submitted a request to the court to wait with a possible suspension until the final ruling on appeal was given. The request was granted, and the curfew will remain in force at least until Friday, the court ruled on Tuesday evening, according to local media.

The decision of a court in the Netherlands, however, has no impact on the measures in Belgium.

Currently, a "limited number of proceedings" against the curfew are still pending, all of which are appeal proceedings, in which the curfew was already declared lawful in the first instance, according to the cabinet of Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.

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Additionally, the Council of State "has already explicitly ruled that the coronavirus measures have a sufficient legal basis, also in the context of the curfew," Verlinden's cabinet told Het Laatste Nieuws.

Last week, the decision by the Charleroi police court declaring Belgium’s curfew measure unconstitutional was also overturned on appeal, confirming the fact that the Belgian curfew measure is constitutional.

In the past year, the Council of State has confirmed the legality of the government’s measures more than 30 times, according to Verlinden and Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne.

'No question of special urgency'

The court in the Netherlands based its ruling on the fact that the Dutch government used a special law, the Act on Extraordinary Powers of Civil Authority, to implement the curfew.

This law gives the government the possibility to impose a curfew in very urgent and extraordinary circumstances, without having to go through a legislative process, in which both chambers are involved beforehand.

However, the court now ruled that there was "no question of the special urgency that is required to be able to make use of that particular law" when introducing the curfew.

In Belgium, the curfew is part of the measures published in the Ministerial Decrees, which have a sufficient legal basis, according to the Council of State.

"The law of 15 May 2007 on civil security does allow us to take all necessary measures in the current exceptional circumstances," Verlinden said last week.

The curfew has been in force for some time, from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM in Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital Region, and between midnight and 5:00 AM in Flanders.

Following the latest Consultative Committee, the curfew, along with Belgium's other coronavirus fighting measures, was extended again, until at least 1 April.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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