The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) today filed an initiative with the Constitutional Court of Serbia to review the constitutionality of Articles 2 and 3 of the Decree on State Emergency Measures and the Order Restricting and Prohibiting Movement of Individuals in the Territory of the Republic of Serbia. Rather than itself laying down the specific measures derogating from human and minority rights in the Decree, the Serbian Government authorised the Ministry of Interior to adopt a decision thereof, with the consent of the Health Ministry.
In the BCHR’s view, the Serbian Government’s power to prescribe measures derogating from human and minority rights in the event the National Assembly cannot convene (with the Serbian President co-signing the decree enacting them), cannot be delegated to the ministries by any Government or presidential enactment. Therefore, Articles 2 and 3 of the Decree on State Emergency Measures and the Order Restricting and Prohibiting Movement of Individuals in the Territory of the Republic of Serbia enacted by the Ministry of the Interior with the Health Ministry’s consent are incompatible with the Constitution. The Interior Ministry’s Order does not constitute valid grounds for derogations from human and minority rights enshrined in the Serbian Constitution, especially given that some of the measures restricting the freedom of movement set out in the Order (most notably the measure prohibiting people over 65 and 70 from leaving their homes 24 hours a day) amount to deprivation of liberty under international human rights standards.
To recall, under the Serbian Constitution, measures derogating from human and minority rights in a state of emergency shall be prescribed by the National Assembly by a majority of votes. In the event the Assembly is not in a position to convene, such measures may be prescribed by a Government Decree, co-signed by the Serbian President. In such cases, the Government is under the duty to submit the Decree to the National Assembly for verification within 48 hours from adoption, i.e. as soon as the National Assembly is able to convene.
The BCHR alerted the Serbian Government to the problem last week, but no-one has reacted to it yet. Given the possibility of unforeseeable legal consequences that may result in the initiation of numerous court proceedings against the state, we have no other option but to take this issue to the Constitutional Court, expecting it to react without delay. We also appeal to the Serbian Government to lay down all measures derogating for human and minority rights in the form prescribed by the Constitution and to ensure that they are proportionate to the purpose of their imposition.
The BCHR’s initiative is available in Serbian here.