Emergency Powers not be used to pass laws to shore up Governments – CLA Warns

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“These powers have a season and are unconstitutional in normal times. The politicians who find themselves as part of an Executive at this time have responsibilities and are accountable” – Commonwealth Lawyers Association. 

 

Source: Commonwealth Lawyers Association. commonwealthlawyers.com

 

The Commonwealth Lawyers Association has warned that emergency powers taken by various Commonwealth jurisdictions when the World Health Organisation declared the Covid-19 outbreak as a pandemic on 11th March 2020, must address the emergency.

“Such emergency powers should not be seen an opportunity to pass laws which simply shore up a government or political party,” said CLA in a statement.

“The Rule of Law provides for scrutiny by Parliament of the acts of the Executive; allows informed criticism and debate without fear or stifling; allows for independence of the Judiciary and the legal profession. The Executive must operate knowing it will be held to account.”

CLA said in the current unique times, steps have been taken by governments across the Commonwealth which have been considered necessary for health reasons.

“At the same time there have been actions taken that raise concerns about the extent to which Rule of Law and Human Rights are being respected.

“The emergency legislation in many countries has been taken at speed and often with little or no Parliamentary scrutiny. The Judiciary has been closed. As a result, normal due process has been subsumed in the emergency of coping, or being seen to deal with the pandemic.”

“It is, nevertheless, essential whilst looking after the population, that governments maintain a high level of proportionality and are seen to apply the principles of the Rule of Law and Human Rights. Governments need to strike a balance between the rights of people and the need to protect from Covid-19. On the one hand are the rights to freedom of speech and movement, to enjoyment of family life; to privacy and to enjoy health care and education. And on the other hand, the State must provide protection and security.

“The CLA is concerned that insufficient consideration is being paid, in parts of the Commonwealth, to the importance of these principles and achieving the right balance.

“The Executive in any parliamentary democracy must be scrutinised by Parliament. The emergency Legislation passed must not carry on when the emergency has passed. These powers have a season and are unconstitutional in normal times. The politicians who find themselves as part of an Executive at this time have responsibilities and are accountable,” said CLA.

To view the original statement in full, click here.

The Commonwealth Lawyers Association is an international non-profit organisation which exists to promote and maintain the rule of law throughout the Commonwealth by ensuring that an independent and efficient legal profession, with the highest standards of ethics and integrity, serves the people of the Commonwealth. commonwealthlawyers.com