The Constitutional Court of Kosovo has ruled against the Kurti government’s decision to restrict movement of people to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The court ruled that the decision does not comply with the constitution and that “the restriction of rights and freedoms can only be done through laws passed in the Assembly”.
The court decision came after President Thaçi’s request to review the constitutionality of the government decision.
On March 23, the government decided to “prohibit the circulation of citizens and private vehicles […] from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm and from 8:00 pm – 6:00 pm except for medical needs, production, supply and sale of essential goods […] and for services and activities related to pandemic management.”
The decision prompted reactions against from President Hashim Thaçi, coalition ally Democratic League of Kosovo and opposition parties, all of which said it violated the Constitution.
The government relied on Art.41.2 of the Law on Preventing and Fighting Infectious Diseases, which states that it can restrict circulation “in regions that have been infected or are directly threaten”.
However, President Thaçi took the matter to the Constitutional Court, after urging citizens and institutions not to comply with government measures. The government slammed Thaçi’s call for public disobedience, and the Vetevendosje party of outgoing Prime Minister Albin Kurti took the matter to the Constitutional Court.
Thaçi argued that restrictions could only be imposed under a state of emergency, which should be approved in parliament.
The Kosovo government had declared a “state of public health emergency” a week before the decision for restrictions. However, President Thaçi requested the parliament to impose a “state of emergency”, which would also give him more power to manage the situation.
The request triggered a crisis. Prime Minister Albi Kurti opposed Thaçi’s request but coalition ally LDK supported it. Kurti fired his Minister of Interior from the LDK, and the latter brought a motion of no confidence against him in parliament. As a result, Kurti’s government was ousted.
Kosovo has reported one victim and 108 people infected with coronavirus to date.