Amnesty for Covid rule breaches enacted
All those who were fined for breaching Covid-era rules that were later declared unconstitutional will be reimbursed and their infractions will be deleted from records under a bill passed by the National Assembly on 20 September.
Between March 2020 and the end of May 2022 more than 62,000 infraction proceedings were launched under legislation that was subsequently ruled unconstitutional and the fines issued totalled €5.7 million, Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan said in presenting the bill.
About 30% or just over €1.7 million in fines had been paid before enforcement was paused soon after the new government took office in June 2022.
The pledge to end and annul all infraction proceedings and reimburse the fines related to Covid rules issued during the former government based on decrees that were later declared unconstitutional because of how they were adopted, was one of the main election promises of the Robert Golob government.
Minister Švarc Pipan said the legislation was aimed at restoring people's trust in the rule of law. The fines will be reimbursed and infractions annulled automatically.
"I am confident that by adopting the law, the state will in some way take moral responsibility and redress the injustices that were committed against citizens through the abuse of criminal law and unconstitutional and excessive encroachment on human rights," she said.
However, the opposition parties, which were in government in the previous term, disagreed. They argued the pandemic-related measures adopted under their government had been taken to protect people's health and lives and had been coordinated at the level of the EU and the World Health Organisation.
The Democrats (SDS) believe the law will only create new injustices under the guise of readdressing injustice. Their MP Branko Grims said it would atone those who had unconstitutionally incited violence and fuelled intolerance.
The minister stressed there would be no amnesty for fines for offences with elements of violence. And neither does the bill include offences such as stopping traffic or honking, she added.
The SDS proposed scratching out the provision to stop enforcement of fines, arguing that if anything was indeed wrong, it should be remedied within the framework of the existing legislation.
The minister dismissed this solution, saying it would lead to overburdened courts and legal costs. Of some 62,000 infringement proceedings 95% were initiated by the police, which means the force would be overwhelmed too, she said.