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The Belgian state maintains its health course

The De Croo government is not renouncing anti-covid measures despite its conviction by a Brussels court.

The De Croo government is not renouncing anti-covid measures despite its conviction by a Brussels court.

From our correspondent, Max Helleff (Brussels) – The Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke is not “impressed”. And yet, it is a monumental snub that has just been inflicted by justice on the De Croo government. On Wednesday, the Brussels court of first instance ordered the state to end the exceptional measures taken in the context of the pandemic, within thirty days. He felt that the executive could not work by ministerial orders and ultimately lead the fight against the pandemic as it saw fit. Failing to comply with this decision, a fine of 5,000 euros per day will be imposed on him.

The lawsuit was brought by the League for Human Rights (LDH) and its Flemish equivalent, the Liga voor Mensenrechten. The LDH has estimated for several months that the anti-covid measures introduced by the government do not comply with legal requirements. So far, however, justice and the Council of State had failed the complainants in the name of urgency.

The order of the Brussels court considers that the measures in force against covid lack a sufficient legal basis. The current laws can respond to one-off emergencies, the judge believes, not to crisis management that is already over a year long. It is therefore time for the “Pandemic” law to provide a basis for the government’s fight against the virus.

But while awaiting its vote, the government does not intend to lower its guard. Barely informed of his conviction, he announced his intention to appeal. Thursday, the Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne, reacted on the news channel LN24 : “We are not lifting the measures. There were other decisions (before that of the Brussels court). The Council of State has decided that there is a legal basis on several occasions. The government therefore decided to appeal. ” And for the rest, “nothing will change while waiting for this decision. The measures remain in force, there are still criminal proceedings and there are no penalties. We will continue to work on the Pandemic law. She is already in Parliament. We did not wait for this decision to talk about it. “

The Pandemic law was approved at first reading, it should be specified. It is based on a royal decree affirming the epidemic emergency, with the approval of Parliament. With it, the government will have the green light to take measures for a period of three months. The new law will list a series of provisions, in fact already used for a year: restriction of movement, closures of establishments, curfews, etc.

The opposition holds its own. It expresses reluctance which will increase as the support of the population crumbles. “Something happened that I have been warning about for months. This warning was ignored by the government, which played with fire, ”lamented the Flemish nationalist Peter De Roover (N-VA), referring to the decision of the Brussels court. The draft of the Pandemic law is “an autocratic text, confiscatory of freedom and therefore dangerous”, estimates François De Smet, the president of the Défi party who had warned very early against the freedom-killing laws inspired by the fight against pandemic. Other attacks came from the communist and humanist ranks.

In the majority, cracks also appear, in particular between the socialists and the French-speaking liberals, brothers enemies of the “Vivaldi coalition” of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. The former suggest half-heartedly that there would be a problem of proportionality in the court’s decision. “A law which, automatically and perennially, would have frozen restrictions on freedom was not acceptable”, retorts the French-speaking liberal Nathalie Gilson.

The press is not more gentle with the government. The evening speaks of a “chronicle of an announced bomb”: “So long is the pitcher in the water that it breaks? The De Croo government has pulled the cord anyway. It was under the pressure that he resolved to propose a pandemic law which was speeded up this Wednesday by the court. Result: even if this judgment is challenged on appeal, the damage is done. “

While awaiting the appeal, several questions inevitably arise. Will the government have to compensate all the losers of the crisis? Answer: everyone will have to take legal action in order to have their right to be recognized. Which will take time and money. Another question: will the population continue to follow the government? It is certain that the decision of the Brussels justice serves its detractors and will encourage summary proceedings against the covid measures. “All this while the public enemy is not the Belgian state, would like to remind The evening, but a homicidal virus. It would have been better to act faster, to avoid this confusion. ”


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