Changes to communicable diseases act endorsed at first reading

Ljubljana – The National Assembly confirmed at first reading on Friday amendments to the communicable diseases act authored by an NGO and formally tabled by a group of unaffiliated MPs that are aimed at making sure efforts to battle infectious diseases are in line with the Constitution.

The bill was endorsed by 43 votes in favour and 31 against as the opposition was joined by the coalition New Slovenia (NSi) in supporting the bill that the majority of deputy groups said could be improved in the subsequent stages of the parliamentary procedure.

The coalition Democrats (SDS) on the other hand claimed that if passed, the legislation would render it impossible for the government to fight an epidemic.

Drawn up by the Legal Network for the Protection of Democracy in cooperation with experts, the legislation has been billed as an attempt to end government-by-decree, something the government has often been criticised about since the onset of the pandemic.

Many government decrees concerning the pandemic have also been overturned or ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court.

The proposal says when and under which circumstances measures based on the communicable diseases act can be introduced. It defines the purpose, types and scope of the measure, the conditions and procedures for their introduction and extension, as well as their maximum duration.

The measures would be introduced gradually, based on how much they encroach on human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The proposal gives a more important role to the National Assembly, especially in terms of oversight over the measures. Its role increases with the intensity and duration of the measures.