Constitutional Court stays provision restricting travel to red-listed countries

Ljubljana – The Constitutional Court has stayed a provision of a government decree which restricts travel to countries on Slovenia’s red list of high-risk countries due to Covid-19, pending its final decision.

In a decision published in the Official Gazette on Thursday, the court invoked its right to stay legislation to prevent the occurrence of irreparable damage.

It said the decree, adopted by the government in late March, “severely restricted” the right of all those with residency in Slovenia, Slovenian nationals as well as foreigners, whereby the rules for leaving the country are stricter than for entering.

The right of individuals to leave the country is enshrined in many international legal instruments and is key to the functioning of a democratic system.

It may be restricted only in the pursuit of a legal and constitutionally admissible objective, whereby individual circumstances must be considered and the limitations may not cause discrimination.

“The continued implementation of the contested provision would encroach on the right of a large number of residents of the Republic of Slovenia to leave the country.”

“It is also necessary to consider that limitations on the freedom of movement may cause other consequences to physical and mental health, property, family life and other areas that are hard to rectify or irreparable,” it said.

The decision was passed in a 8:1 vote following petitions by three applicants, with judge Klemen Jaklič dissenting.

The government decree, which governs measures on the border designed to minimise Covid-19 transmission, entered into effect on 29 March.

It banned travel to all red-listed countries – all of Slovenia’s neighbouring countries included – except for individuals who have been vaccinated, convalescents, and a narrow set of exemptions.

One way to avoid the ban was to pay a EUR 400 fine under the communicable diseases act.

In one instance last week, the Administrative Court issued a temporary injunction allowing an applicant to leave the country without paying a fine.

Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said the decision meant Slovenia would not be able to get rid of the virus soon, adding that Constitutional Court judges were not accountable and were incapable of decisions save for temporarily staying legislation.

Asked whether it was possible the decree will be adjusted, he told the STA people would be allowed to leave the country freely, but entering would not be so simple any more.