Analysis: the legal status of actions # covid19 Ethiopia


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The indications are emerging that Ethiopia is directed to a complete blockage. To be more exact, the Federal Government looks set to bring the measures taken against the new coronavirus (COVID-19) at the level of the governments of the federal units. This would mean some kind of blockage.

Indications are also some of the ads deducted government institutions. According to reports from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has announced a plan to bring the homeless in camps. Minister of State for the Ministry of Finance, Ethiopian television that there is a plan to use food reserves of the country. vehicle market of the city has also moved to one of the largest open spaces in the city, Jan-Meda ‘.

Similar indications also come from measures that major non-state actors announced last week. After nearly two weeks of reluctant measures, the great religious institutions of the country were beyond half-measures they adopted and announced suspension of regular activities.

On 31 March, the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council informed the public that all the mosques will be closed and all teaching and learning and prayer activities will be suspended for the duration # COVID19Ethiopia. At the next day, the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church did the same announcing that followers of the church to pray from home. They will be held prayers in the sacred liturgy Church and only a limited number of priests.

While the Federal Government has been taking action in relation to COVID-19 incoherently since 16 March it has been little clarity about the legal basis on which the measures are based. In the same way, there are many questions about the legal status of the measures themselves.

If indeed, these measures result in restrictions on the rights enshrined in the Declaration of the Charter of Rights of the Constitution and protected in international treaties to which Ethiopia is a party, such as the African Charter on Human Rights and peoples, it is essential that these measures are anchored in legislation duly established or otherwise will end up lacking constitutional and legal legitimacy. This is particularly the case if the federal government is to extend the measures to a level of total blockade similar to those carried out in Rwanda, South Africa, United Kingdom and Uganda.

The rule of law is a cornerstone of constitutionalism and the rule of law. As an established principle of constitutional law and human rights law in fact generally it requires that any limitation or restriction on human rights must be on the basis of a duly enacted law of general application.

Ethiopia responds to COVID19 amid the lack of legal clarity

Ethiopia was part of the first group of African countries to establish a Ministerial Committee to mobilize coordinated response to COVID-19 on 29 February. This was announced in a press release from the Office of the Prime Minister, not in the official gazette. No reference was made in the press release to specific legislation on the basis of which the Committee was established. no decree was also adopted outlining the nature and scope of the mandate of the Committee. The press release said the measures would last for a period of two weeks.

Elevating the COVID-19 threat posed to global public health at the highest level, on 11 March, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic. Although the Ministerial Committee held a meeting the next day, which reviewed preparations to respond to the pandemic but concluded without adopting any set of prevention and containment. On March 13, the first case of COVID-19 in the country was confirmed. During the next two days, the number of confirmed cases increased to 3. However, they were carried out activities involving large gatherings, including large political events and sports activities in Addis Ababa at the weekend of 14 and 15 March with little regard to social distancing measures that wHO and the Regional Center for Africa of the African Union for Disease control and require many countries that have adopted COVID-19 cases.

On March 16, after a meeting of the Ministerial Committee COVID-19, Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy announced the first set of measures to be implemented in response to COVID-19. These measures were announced again in a press release, not in an official gazette. The formulation of the tongue on the measures taken was not clear whether the measures have the force of law. Both the means used to publicize the measures (press release) and the formulation of the language used in the definition of the measures outlined in general terms the measures are not intended to have a force of law.

The lack of precision in the language of what is forbidden and what is expected suggests that the measures announced are of recommendation. For example, the outline the first major step, the press release planned ‘large gatherings and meetings including sporting events postponed.’ While Germany banned the gathering of more than two people, the US 10 and South Africa 100 range using instruments of the law, which is great meetings was not defined in the press release announcing the measures. In the same way the press release on March 16 planned ‘religious institutions and places of worship to limit meetings’, again without specific details about what the meetings meant limiting.

The only aspect of the measures announced it was clear enough to implement and it sounded like was a requirement stipulating the closure of all schools. Even then, the press release made an exception for institutions of higher education, which in legal terms was not rational from the point of view of the risk of spreading COVID-19, therefore, the decision back to close these institutions. Fundamentally, such a measure leading to the closure of institutions and interrupts the right to public and private education is introduced without reference to any special law governing the adoption of such measures by the government. In fact, there is no law that gives authority to any entity to close schools throughout the country, except when the state of emergency declared in accordance with Article 93 of the Constitution. At the time of the closure of schools and, since then, no state of emergency has been declared by the Federal Government.

Additional measures announced before the end of the two week period

Before the end of the two week period of the first set of measures announced on March 16, plus additional measures they were announced on 23 March. Again, no reference was made to the specific legal authority on the basis of which these measures were introduced. The formulation of measures, which lack precision and clarity, also raises questions about whether they are intended to have the force of law. The medium used to announce the measures also doubts that the measures were intended to have the force of law.

The press release of 23 March to announce the new set of measures, stipulated ‘[a] s of March 23, 2020, the security sector will begin to enforce measures taken by the Committee of Ministers to large cesar meetings and maintain social distancing ‘. The security sector seem to cover the army, but this raises the question of whether these are the types of tasks and circumstances that the army be deployed provided by applicable law and in the absence of declaration of a state of emergency. Even in terms of restrictions on meetings, instead of limiting all meetings, the press release provided that ‘government institutions, including political parties, (sic) that adhere to social distance and preventive measures when convening meetings’. No distinction is made here as to whether these meetings are large or small. Obviously, this raises questions about the rational to allow these institutions to continue holding meetings, while others are forbidden and if such supports rational test of the constitutional or legal scrutiny. In a nod to stay in the message home, the press release stated that ‘government institutions to facilitate the work of startup options on a case by case basis for some employees’. Again, this is expressed as a recommendation.

Similar to measures adopted on March 16, one of the measures introduced on March 23 it was clear enough to be implemented with little ambiguity and sounds like a requirement is that the one who called the National Defense Force to stop the movement of people throughout borders’. however, this is not stated in an instrument that means a force of law and the decree proclaimed in an official gazette.

Find the sources of legal authority of COVID19 measures in Ethiopia

In the Ethiopia Like several other countries have introduced measures for the prevention and containment of COVDI-19. In general, these countries adopt these measures on the basis of duly enacted legislation either in force before the adoption of the measures or the measures are introduced to the adoption. In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the COVID-19 pandemic as the creation of a national state of disaster and announced a series of measures that includes 21 days of confinement. In announcing these measures, referred to and relied on the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002. In the same way, in Uganda, the legal authority for measures are presidential and Statutory Instruments under the Public Health Act proclaims. The same is true for Kenya. Kenya adopted measures were introduced through the Public Health (Control of COVID-19) Rules, 2020 drawing of the legal authority under the Public Health Act of Kenya.

The same is true in other countries like Korea COVID19 face of the South or Taiwan. In Taiwan, the Command Center was established based on the Law on the Center for Disease Control and details of the Law on the CDC were supplemented with the special law for the prevention, relief and revitalization measures for Pneumonia with new pathogens ( special law or special law COVID19), which specifies fiscal and other special measures of socioeconomic aid.

The lack of clarity about the source of legal authority on the basis that the Federal Government of Ethiopia introduced various measures to address COVDI19 is in contrast to the experience of all these and many other countries. In fact, it is in contrast to the approach taken by the regional state of Tigray, one of the nine units of the Federation of Ethiopia. Although came after the second series of measures announced by the Federal Government, Tigray announced measures in response to COVID-19 on the basis of a declaration of a state of emergency. On March 25, the State Council of Tigray, the legislative body of the regional government adopted a bill submitted by the executive arm of the government to declare a state of emergency under Article 93 of the Federal Constitution of Ethiopia.

Certainly there are some pertinent federal laws in various legal instruments. However, they are scattered in various provisions of different authority. These potentially relevant laws are very shallow, therefore lack the specificity required in the scope of the measures and the timeline of such measures.

The relevant provisions are among others in the proclamation that define the authority of the Ministry of Health, the regulation establishing the Ethiopian Institute of Public Health and the Penal Code of Ethiopia. There are certain powers entrusted to the Ministry of Health under Article 27 of the Proclamation no. 1097/2029, which defines the powers and duties of the executive bodies of the Federal Government. Article 27 (6) provides that the Ministry will ‘legacy and monitor the implementation of strategies for the prevention of epidemics and contagious diseases. ” This mainly deals with the preparation of the strategy before the onset of epidemic or contagious diseases. Perhaps more relevant is Article 27 (7) provided that the Ministry should “take preventive measures against events that threaten public health; on the facts of an emergency coordinating measures other stakeholders to quickly and effectively to the problem ‘. Although it is clear that this is relevant to the effects of the pandemic COVID19, the operation of this provision is based on another law enforcement (decree or regulation) that defines how, what and by whom action should be taken if a public health emergency or declaration of a state of emergency under Article 93 of the Constitution.

The other source of law that has the potential relevance is the regulation establishing the Ethiopian Institute of Public Health. Regulation No. 301-2013 empowers the Institute to carry out, during epidemics or other hazards public health emergency or public health, research from sight when deemed necessary, verify outbreaks, item alerts provide spreading information and warning .., mobilize or make resource mobilization, support response activities carried out at wordas, and regional areas as deemed necessary. The Institute is also empowered ‘to design strategies emission guidelines … provide support to prevent and mitigate public health emergencies.’ In addition, the Institute is entrusted with the mandate, ‘in cooperation with the competent authorities, monitoring of conduct for the early identification and detection of public health risks and prevent public health emergencies through adequate preparation; and alert, warning, and issuing timely information during public health emergency … “

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