April 1, the Ukrainian government announced its intention to make quarantine measures even tougher. At first, people thought it was April Fool’s joke, but then it became no laughing matter.
Social media users say there would be a large number of lawsuits due to the actions of the Cabinet. But the fact is that it is impossible to sue the government in Ukraine. That is, it is possible, but the matter is hopeless. On February 5, 2020, President Zelensky signed the law (Bill No. 2314), which effectively makes courts with the government impossible.
Having decided that the peak of coronavirus in Ukraine will fall on Easter (an assumption that is not based on any objective data), the government proposes to ban the following until April 24:
- being in public places without wearing a mask or respirator;
- movement in a group of more than two persons, except in cases of official necessity and accompanying children;
- presence in public places of persons under 16 years, unaccompanied by adults;
- visiting parks, squares, recreation areas, forest parks, and coastal zones, walking a pet with more than one person;
- visiting playgrounds;
- holding of all mass events with more than ten participants, except for the events necessary to ensure the work of state authorities and local authorities.
All of these prohibitions can be considered both from the point of view of medical expediency and in the context of legal grounds.
It is completely incomprehensible why a family of five people can live in one flat, but cannot move along the street together. It is also unclear how the presence of an adult nearby will save a teenager from the infection.
There are questions about visiting sports fields: why jogging is prohibited? Or walk in a forested area, for which dogs have more rights than children?
Former acting Healthcare Minister Ulyana Suprun has repeatedly noted that the risk of infecting on the street is several times lower than infecting in a store or pharmacy. (By the way, another decision of the government allowed people with confirmed coronavirus to visit shops and pharmacies if absolutely necessary, so where is the logic in all these prohibitions?)
Now let us talk about the medical masks. Earlier, the ban on appearing in public places without a mask was announced by PM Shmygal, but he promised to introduce this norm only after the protective equipment market is robust. But the market is not robust, Ukraine suffers from a lack of medical masks.
They can be bought online at a speculative price - an average of 0,7 USD per item. It is quite obvious that under such conditions, a disposable mask turns into a reusable mask, which until April 24will be used to pass the security guard of a mall.
Interestingly, a few weeks earlier, the chief sanitary doctor of Ukraine, Deputy Minister of Health Viktor Lyashko urged Ukrainians not to buy surgical masks, since their use would not protect against coronavirus.
Similar recommendations are made by the World Health Organization. According to information on the WHO website, to prevent infection, wearing a mask is recommended only to people with symptoms of SARS (so as not to infect others) and healthy people if they are helping a person with suspected Covid-19.
Let's start with the basics, namely the Constitution of Ukraine. Article 33 guarantees all citizens freedom of movement; Article 19 says that “no one may be forced to do what is not provided for by law;” Article 21 declares that human rights in our state are "inalienable and indestructible," and Article 22 states that "constitutional freedoms are guaranteed and cannot be abolished."
Article 64 introduces some refinement in the above formulations. "The constitutional rights and freedoms of man and citizen may not be limited, except in cases provided for by the Constitution of Ukraine.
No, now we do not live according to the law of the state of emergency, because it is not introduced. There is a special procedure for introducing a state of emergency, first, the Cabinet of Ministers prepares a corresponding submission substantiating the need for a state of emergency, and then the president prepares a decree, and the Verkhovna Rada approves it.
If this scenario wasn’t realized, perhaps, we follow the law “On the Protection of the Population and Territories from Emergencies of a Technogenic and Natural Character,” the law on emergency. By the way, now many media have deployed lengthy explanations on the topic of how an emergency differs from a state of emergency.
Thus, there is only one option: the Civil Protection Code - a multi-page document, which spells out, in particular, the actions of authorities in the event of an epidemic.
Certain restrictions on citizens' rights are suitable for this law, but it cannot be said that it is implemented since the state unilaterally completely ignores its obligations. But it requires strict observance from citizens. Firstly, the Code declares mandatory provision by the state of personal protective equipment to all citizens who find themselves in a territory affected by a natural disaster or epidemic. Naturally, we are talking about free equipment. Our citizens are ready to buy protective equipment and medicines at their own expense, but an artificially created deficit deprives them of such an opportunity.
Secondly, Article 21 of the Code states that citizens of Ukraine have the right to get "social protection and compensation in accordance with the law for harm caused to their life, health, and property as a result of emergency situations or to work to prevent and eliminate the consequences."
They also have the right to "medical assistance, social and psychological support and medical and psychological rehabilitation in the event of physical and psychological injuries."
We will not talk about the state of the Ukrainian healthcare system and the conditions in which patients with suspected coronavirus are in the infectious wards of hospitals. Let us take exclusively the economic aspect of the problem. Does Ukraine plan to compensate for the forced downtime for business and those state employees who are now forced to write vacation applications without saving wages?
Maryna Lazebna, Minister of Social Policy, promised to increase subsidies for paying utility bills to those who have lost their jobs lately. On average, such a handout will be 10 USD, she said. Such generosity is simply amazing.
All this has nothing to do with the implementation of the provisions of the Civil Protection Code. All this does not bring us closer to those civilized countries where, along with severe restrictions for the victims, a list of benefits and preferences has been formed and put into effect.
In the meantime
And therefore, obviously, in a situation where the government tightens the nuts, even more, it can be complained to the court. But as MP Antonina Slavitska says in the comments for 112.ua, this is impossible. She recalls that the courts were forbidden to provide claims where the defendant would be the Cabinet of Ministers.
The state becomes untouchable. Meanwhile, the 129th article of the Constitution says that one of the basic principles of legal proceedings is "the equality of all participants in the trial before the law and the court. Actually, it is precisely this norm that President Zelensky’s law actually cancels out," said Antonina Slavitska.
She also recalls: "There is a decision of the Constitutional Court of October 19, 2009, which recognized the ban on the court to secure the claim as unconstitutional." Why then does the power step over the verdict of the Constitutional Court, which is final and not subject to appeal? “The sale of land is the key to understanding all the latest processes, including the president’s illegal legislative initiatives,” Slavitska replies.
"Imagine how many lawsuits would the judges receive when they start selling and buying land. Conflicts of interest, as well as legal disputes, are just unavoidable here. To solve everything at once, the government is lobbying for new rules that would put the state above the law.
Providing the court with the claim so far has been an opportunity to quickly respond to the offense. Now, this opportunity might disappear. Because even if the court eventually decides in favor of the person, it will be impossible to fulfill the decision,” she says.
Andriy Magera, former deputy chairman of the CEC, follows up this idea: “According to the results of the consideration of the lawsuit, the courts can cancel the illegal act of the Cabinet of Ministers, but this process will be time-consuming. Firstly, we would need a time period for consideration in the court of the first instance. Secondly, time for appeal. Thirdly, there should be time for appeal in court. Finally, it will come into force from the moment of its announcement,” he writes on Facebook.
And he adds: “The authorities have prepared in advance since no matter how stupid, unconstitutional or illegal the Cabinet’s decisions might be, even the court has not been able to protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens.”