Whilst the Hague District Court says that curfew in The Netherlands must be lifted immediately, the Attorney General and parliament are expected to make a further announcement today
The curfew must be lifted immediately, says the District Court in The Hague, which has determined that the law was brought in by wrongfully using emergency legislation. The case was brought by a pressure group called the “Stichting Viruswaarheid”, reports the GIC.
The curfew has been instituted on the basis of an emergency law, which says that a Dutch cabinet can introduce rules in an emergency without consultation with the House of Representatives and the Senate. But, according to the Hague court, that law is intended for acute emergency situations, such as ‘an unexpected dike breach’, or other incredibly fast-moving series of events.
Question marks about substantiation
In addition, according to the court, there are “at the very least serious question marks about the factual substantiation by the State of the need for the curfew measure”. “It is also important that the pandemic has lasted almost a year and it is recognized that the pressure on healthcare is currently less than was the case before.”
The court also points out that according to the latest information, the mutations of the virus seem to be less contagious than initially thought. In addition, “It is currently not clear that the mutations will lead to an unsustainable situation.”
The preliminary relief judge also states that the OMT (Outbreak Management Team) has no definitive proof that the curfew is making a substantial contribution to reducing the virus. “The fact that some countries, including apparently France, have reported positively about this is not yet convincing without further substantiation.”
According to the preliminary relief judge in The Hague, the curfew constitutes “a far-reaching violation of the right to freedom of movement and privacy”.
The curfew went into effect on Saturday, January 23, and was initially scheduled to last 3.5 weeks. Last week it was decided to extend the measure until March 2.
It is not yet known what the consequences are for fines for violating the curfew, which were previously issued. Such a fine was 95 euros.
Reaction from Groningen
Hans Coenraads, spokesperson for Mayor Koen Schuiling, chairman of the Groningen Safety Region, says that the court’s decision is a national issue, and that it is therefore not up to Groningen to respond to it now.
“Consultations are held at the highest level in The Hague. It is up to the cabinet to respond to the court’s decision. We do expect a response from the cabinet during the day. So we await them”.
What happens now?
The Dutch parliament’s Tweede Kamer has just started a ‘speed-debate’ on the issue, with the Attorney General (who is not a political appointment in the Netherlands) is also scrutinising the Hague court’s decision. Further announcements are expected throughout the afternoon.