Concerning the bill "relating to administrative police measures during an epidemic emergency situation", we produced various analyzes, together with proposals, at the stage of the preliminary draft law, then at the stage of the draft law itself.
At the stage of the draft law
In order to contribute to the parliamentary debate, we sent to the deputies composing the Interior Committee of the Chamber of Representatives of the Belgian Federal Parliament a note of comments and proposals, which begins with the following introductory remarks:
"The draft law relating to administrative police measures during an epidemic emergency, approved by the Council of Ministers on February 26, 2021 (" Draft ") is a good initiative in that it finally allows Parliament to assume its democratic role in the context of the health crisis that has been ongoing for more than a year. This preliminary draft is, however, in its current conception, subject to many criticisms (see below). substance, it aims to endorse the current crisis management and to authorize, for the future, identical or similar crisis management, by the executive power almost exclusively. However, it has been over a year now that we have been under this emergency epidemic exception regime. While this might appear legitimate and regular at the outset, things can no longer continue to be managed in this way, and this should be avoided in the future. In particular, its scope should be limited to the current Covid-19 epidemic, to further strengthen parliamentary control (which must resume a central role as soon as the initial emergency has passed), to weigh all the interests involved when taking administrative police measures and promoting maximum transparency as to the justification for these measures; finally, to limit the processing of personal data to a clear purpose limited to public health and for a limited period. Finally, provision should be made for an effective a priori and a posteriori evaluation of administrative police measures."
To read the whole note, it is possible to download it in pdf format below:
At the stage of the law project
Carte blanche, published in La Libre on April 28, 2021:
Given the very broad scope given to the bill by the government, we were led, first and foremost, to publish a "carte blanche" in the newspaper La Libre, entitled: "Ensuring a solid legal basis for manage the current period, YES! Hastily and without hindsight impose a framework for the management of future crises, NO! "
This carte blanche, signed by 32 legal professionals and scientists or health professionals, as well as by the ASBL Notre Bon Droit and the Covid Rationnel collective, appeared in the edition of April 28, 2021. It can be consulted in online and downloaded, in pdf format and in FR and NL versions, below:
Urgent observations relating to the Bill of April 27, 2021:
Reading the bill itself, once published, then led us to write a second note of "urgent observations", dated May 1, 2021.
This note begins with the following introductory remarks:
"The government is trying to hastily pass the law project n° 55 1951/001 which was tabled in the House on Tuesday April 27, 2021 (hereinafter, the“Bill”).
As underlined by the many and eminent signatories of the carte blanche published in various media (copy in annex, hereinafter, the "Carte Blanche"), there is no reason for such an important law to be passed in haste.
There is certainly an urgent need to put an end to the lack of an appropriate legal basis on which to base the very numerous measures restricting the rights and freedoms of Belgians adopted by public authorities in the context of the spread of COVID-19, without any parliamentary control and little or no judicial control. However, this urgency does not justify an incomplete, flawed and in many respects unconstitutional legislation being passed in record time by Parliament. It is undoubtedly this haste that is at the root of the obvious errors and flaws in the bill.
What is needed, on the contrary, is a solid and well-thought-out law, focused on the current crisis, which allows the work of federal, regional and local authorities to be effectively framed in the context of an exceptional situation. It is in the first place for the representatives of the people to ensure this control. They must have all the necessary and useful means for this purpose. It is then up to the competent courts to carry out urgent judicial review, in compliance with Article 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights (ECHR).
We set out below, by way of non-exhaustive list, the main faults of the Project following an analysis carried out as a matter of urgency."
To read the whole note, it is possible to download it in pdf format below:
Critical analysis notes of the bill with regard to European law and criminal law:
The examination of the bill having been somewhat extended, and in order to contribute as actively as possible to the parliamentary debate, the collective wrote two additional notes making a critical analysis of the bill from the more specific angles of European law and of criminal law.
These notes are available in pdf format below, in NL or FR versions only:
On May 18, 2021, the Grappe, Horeca Bxl, Lawyers4Democracy, La Boum, Cycle for freedom and Art 23 collectives co-signed an open letter entitled "I LOVE MY CONSTITUTION", which was sent to all the presidents of French-speaking political parties. , and displayed in large format in front of Parliament.
This letter begins as follows:
"Dear parliamentarians, presidents and presidents of political parties,
In your titles and qualities,
Your vote is ours first.
This message is addressed to you on behalf of Belgian citizens.
On Thursday, April 29, 2021, Home Secretary Annelies Verlinden said in plenary session in parliament:
"There is a great societal need for a specific legal framework allowing rapid action during this pandemic and future pandemics". She added that the bill on administrative police measures in a situation
epidemic emergency "is the subject of an important debate on the impact of corona measures on the rights and freedoms of citizens" and that "in this debate, many voices are raised to adopt the project quickly in order to facilitate then an in-depth and serious debate ”. She finally stated that "not only the government but also society demand that this project be finalized as soon as possible".
Ladies and Gentlemen, what the Home Secretary said is not what a large part of the people are asking for. A
simple cross on a ballot is not a democratic blank check. We demand the right to speak.
You are the representatives of our democratic society. You have a duty to defend the interests of the citizen and to keep it in mind when making decisions. It is important to take your responsibilities and constitute our last democratic bulwark against the passage of this potential law. For our generation but especially for those who follow us.
We do not want this law, and especially not in a hurry. In haste, you engage our future. (...) "
This open letter is available in its entirety, here:
Carte blanche, published in La Libre on May 28, 2021:
After a year and a half of a crisis regime, and with a view to adopting a law defining the framework applicable, for the future, to the management of an epidemic emergency situation, we have co-signed a "carte blanche" in the newspaper La Libre, entitled: "We ask for a cost / benefit analysis of the health measures taken for more than a year" (original title: "'Never waste a good crisis': evaluate to better manage ").
This carte blanche, signed by 71 professionals from the academic, legal and medical world, appeared in the May 28, 2021 edition. It begins as follows:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Federal, Regional and Community Ministers,
In nearly fifteen months of the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to the direct victims of the new coronavirus, the response strategy of our governments has weighed heavily on citizens, from the exercise of their profession to the privacy of their homes. Establishments have been closed, activities suspended and professions banned indefinitely. Travel was limited in time and space. Gatherings and meetings were banned. Health care unrelated to the virus has been temporarily discouraged, with the dire consequences we know.
The foundations of this strategy, first improvised and then consolidated, are questionable. Its supposed effects on the circulation of the virus are difficult to measure and little or not evaluated. Beyond a small circle of experts consulted since the beginning of the crisis, the desirability of this intervention strategy is not the subject of a consensus in the scientific community, especially in the long term. (...) "
It can be viewed in full on the La Libre website.