Constitution: only PS and PSD want deprivation of liberty for public health reasons | Constitutional review

PS and PSD were this Thursday isolated in the proposals to include in the Constitution the deprivation of liberty for seriously ill patients, in case of health emergency, with the remaining parties considering that the current legal framework should be maintained.

However, socialists and social democrats – who make up the two thirds necessary to amend the Constitution – have expressed their readiness for consensus between them, although the discussion of the article has been midway through this Thursday’s meeting of the eventual commission for constitutional revision and only it will be finished next tuesday.

In a matter that the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has already said is a priority in the revision of the Constitution – how to enact, with legal certainty, confinements in the event of a new pandemic, even without a state of emergency –​ both parties opt to add, in the article that regulates the right to freedom and security (27th), a new exception to the current ones that already allow the deprivation of liberty.

Socialists determine that the deprivation of liberty can take place for “separation of a person with a serious contagious disease or in relation to which there is a well-founded fear of spreading a serious disease or infection, determined by the health authority, by reasoned decision, for the strictly necessary time, in the event of a public health emergency, with a guarantee of urgent appeal to the judicial authority”.

The PSD uses a different wording: “Containment or hospitalization for public health reasons of a person with a serious infectious-contagious disease, for the strictly necessary time, decreed or confirmed by a competent judicial authority”.

In the presentation of the proposals, the deputy Mónica Quintela expressed doubts in relation to the expression “separation” used by the socialists (saying that it reminded apartheid), and stressed that the Social Democrats demand that there be an already verified disease – instead of just a “founded fear” – and, above all, “the seal of a judge”, not being enough the decision of an administrative authority. “I think it won’t be difficult for us to agree or reach a consensus on a common wording”, said the PSD deputy.

For the PS, Alexandra Leitão admitted that judicial intervention “would make perfect sense”, but warned that it would be difficult to achieve it quickly, saying she sees herself in the PSD’s text in the part where it refers that the isolation of a patient has to be “decreed or confirmed by judicial authority”, since it would allow an authorization a posteriori.

At this point, the former Minister of Health Marta Temido also intervened to point out that the experience of covid-19 advises to isolate not only infected people, but also those with strong suspicions of the disease (emphasizing the importance of the quarantine period), and warned that subjecting this practice to prior judicial authorization “on days when there were 30,000 cases” would be an impossibility.

Chega, by deputy Rui Paulo Sousa, accused PS and PSD of “intend to admit compulsory hospitalization”, while the former president of IL, João Cotrim Figueiredo, even spoke of “infamous article”. “I am shocked by the lightness and ease with which security and totalitarian issues are discussed as if we were talking about banal issues”, he criticized.

Less radical in terms, but also critical, were the other parties, with the parliamentary leader of the BE, Pedro Filipe Soares, considering that “a suppression of rights in such an exaggerated way” always requires that a state of emergency be decreed, the formulation of which no one has proposed changing it in this constitutional revision. “What the experience of the pandemic shows is the unnecessaryness of this requirement and the great compliance with sanitary measures, what we should do is reflect on the excesses committed and not constitutionalize the excesses”, corroborated PCP deputy Alma Rivera.

In the same vein, Livre’s sole deputy, Rui Tavares, said that he would need to be “very well convinced” to accept these suppression of rights, saying he was satisfied with the current wording of the Constitution that obliges the decree of a state of emergency to impose this type of deprivation of liberty. “It is with concern that we see these solutions in the way they are formulated”, also noted the sole PAN deputy Inês Sousa Real, stressing that the involvement of parliament in all decisions during the covid-19 pandemic made the Government provide more information to deputies.

Along the way, the proposals of the PCP in this article to limit the disciplinary detention of military personnel to “time of war or during military missions”, as well as the one presented by the PSD so that, in the Autonomous Regions, the execution of the declaration of the state of emergency was ensured by the Regional Government.

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