Fight against coronavirus must not lead to violation and Limitation of citizens’ rights

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) expresses concern about repeated intrusion into the zone of systematic violence of citizens’ rights because of the latest tightening of the measures aimed at suppressing the spread of the coronavirus.

More precisely, this refers to the part of measures concerning movement within intercity transport, movement after 21h, as well as a movement during the weekend, which in addition to employer’s certificate, require a decision on employment or employment contract that must be available to police officers. This puts into question the competence of the authorities who assessed the legality of this measure, considering that the employment contract represents an intern document regulating the relation between employer and employee.

From the aspect of personal data protection, the obligation of showing the employment contracts for these purposes is disputable because they contain confidential information relating to the contracting parties, primarily the employee. These contracts may contain other data that employers consider may lead to violence of the trade secret.  Last year we had the opportunity to see that certain measures taken in a hurry and without expert analysis led to human rights violations, and it is not good to re-apply such an approach.

Additionally, it looks like the authorities, while bringing these measures did not have in mind those persons hired on another basis, apart from the employment contract.  Therefore, it remains unclear how the right to move between municipalities can be exercised by persons who are hired under service contract, internship contract, temporary or part-time jobs and other similar contracts, although they have required employer’s certificate.

Also, the fact that we live in a country in which a large number of people do not have the employment contracts or they are registered at the Employment Agency under the unemployed category, was unfortunately not considered. This raises the question: how can these persons accomplish their existential needs conditioned with moving from one municipality to the other one?

Control could have been provided by linking the current system instead of burdening the citizens and violating their rights. For example, the possibility of verifying the credibility of decisions by inspecting records of Tax Administration or Employment Agency could be envisaged, or eventually the anonymization, i.e. concealing certain data of the contracts. To those who do not have employment contract, it was necessary to enable some sort of announcement of the intercity transport at least 24 h in advance, leaving enough time for the check and issuance of the certificate of undisturbed moving.

CCE supports all the measures which contribute to suppressing this serious communicable disease, emphasizing that these must be objectively considered, based on arguments, applied equally to all and consistently implemented.  The Government did not convincingly explain diversified attitude towards entry from other countries which throws the shadow of political influence on the adoption of these measures. We also witness inadmissible acting of some members of the Government and other authorized representatives who call on citizens to self-discipline and clearly warn of punishing all those who do not respect the measures, but at the same time violate those measures themselves and remain unsanctioned. Thereby, the constitutional principle of the rule of law is seriously endangered and abolishes the obligation to respect measures for all others.

Finally, CCE  calls on the  Government to adopt and publish measures on time in the future, so that citizens and organizations have enough time to adapt their activities to the binding norms. The current practice of adopting measures in the middle of the week and their application from the following day is not good, although tightening of measures is announced a few days before. The authorities must demonstrate sensibility and be aware that the citizens often need to reorganize their living and working activities following the measures, and they need to get enough time for that.

CCE suggests to the Police administration to continue the practice of regular publication of information on the effects of control over the application of prescribed measures, to know police action in sanctioning those who are partially responsible for the bad epidemiological situation in the country.

Tamara Milas, Human Rights Programme Coordinator