COVID Certificates in Public Sector Constitutional and Legal, Says Court

By 15 February 2022
COVID Certificates in Public Sector Constitutional and Legal, Says Court

ZAGREB, 15 Feb 2022 - The Constitutional Court on Tuesday rejected an application by 35 opposition Members of Parliament and proposals by another 28 applicants who claimed that the introduction of COVID certificates in the public sector was unconstitutional and unlawful.

The court, however, partially upheld the application and proposals to evaluate whether the introduction of COVID certificates in the public sector was in line with the Constitution and the law with reference to the exemption of university students. The court quashed the possibility of an individual faculty deciding to oblige students to present a COVID digital certificate or evidence of a COVID test, vaccination or having recovered from COVID in order to enter the faculty.

The national COVID response team adopted a decision on 12 November 2021 and amended it on 25 January 2022 requiring COVID certificates or other proof of vaccination, testing or recovery for all employees in state and government institutions as well as anyone entering these premises.

The Constitutional Court reiterated its stances regarding Articles 16 and 17 of the Constitution and on the Sabor having the exclusive power to "activate" Article 17 on the powers of the response team to adopt measures and decisions regulated by the Law on the Protection of the Population against Infectious Diseases, the legal nature of those decisions and the principles based on which the court evaluates the constitutionality and legality of the response team's decisions.

Aim is to protect health and lives and curb the pandemic

With regard to the legitimacy of the aim, the court determined that the response team's disputed decision has the same aim, to protect the health and lives of citizens and to prevent and curb the pandemic.

In this particular case, that means to enable the undisturbed work of the public sector in COVID circumstances, while ensuring the safety of employees and visitors to public premises.

The court ruled that the decision on testing employees in the health and welfare sectors adopted on 21 December 2021 was appropriate and necessary to achieve the desired aim. The court reiterated that citizens have the option to choose whether to be vaccinated or tested.

The court rejected complaints regarding the inequality of the public sector compared to the private sector.

Four dissenting opinions announced

The court ruled that the reasoning to introduce the measures in the public sector was appropriate to enable the viability of the state and public administration and regional and local government units in providing public services, in that the scope and intensity of measures depends on the current epidemiological circumstances, which is determined by the COVID response team.

The ruling was adopted with four constitutional court judges voting against it. The dissenting opinions and the court's ruling will be made available on the court's website in due course, the court said in a press release.