Tuesday 21 March 2023

Appeal court says curfew is justified, state can refer to ‘extraordinary circumstances’

The clock on the Grote Kerk in Enschede. Photo: Depositphotos

Appeal court judges in The Hague said on Friday that the government had introduced the curfew in mid January on valid legal grounds, tearing up last week’s lower court verdict.

The lower court had ruled that the curfew had been based on legislation designed to cover emergencies such as a dyke breach, and said that there was no question of similar urgency in the case of coronavirus.

However, the appeal court said that the current circumstances can be considered ‘extraordinary’ and this made the introduction of the curfew an option. ‘The coronavirus pandemic is sufficient cause,’ the court said.

‘The court is also of the opinion that introducing a curfew is proportional, given other measures are not available,’ the judges said in their ruling. ‘The (temporary and limited) infringement of various fundamental rights, such as the right to freedom of movement, is therefore justified.’

Last week’s legal wrangling led the government to bring in emergency legislation to anchor the curfew in law, which has now been passed by both houses of parliament.

Friday’s ruling means that the 33,000 fines handed out to people for breaking the curfew, which runs from 9pm to 4.30am, remain in place.

Campaign group Viruswaarheid, which brought the case against the curfew, said they will appeal to the Supreme Court and, possibly, bring a new case against the new legislation.

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