Justice minister vows to monitor restrictive measures adoption

Ljubljana – Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan has vowed to keep a close eye on the government’s work if new restrictive measures will need to be imposed due to a surge in coronavirus cases. Talking to the STA, she said she advocated the suspension of unconstitutional proceedings launched against individuals under the previous government.

“If new restrictive measures are needed to curb coronavirus, my key priority will be to ensure that the measures are adopted in line with the principle of legality and that they represent legal and proportionate interventions in human rights. This was not the case under the previous government.”

She pointed to the recently passed changes to the communicable diseases act, which stipulate that the extension of restrictive measures be approved by the National Assembly.

“The key objective is to create an appropriate legal basis allowing the government to introduce measures without parliament’s approval but also provide certain safeguards for when and under what conditions the government must inform MPs about the measures.”

One of the main priorities of the coalition agreement was to abolish fines issued to individuals based on decrees of the previous government which have since been deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, with Švarc Pipan underlining the objective was not to stop all offence procedures launched during the pandemic.

The objective is to determine which procedures were launched based on illegal and unconstitutional measures, she said. The ministry is readying the “first phase” of analysis, acquiring data about all offence procedures and fines issued. “The number of offence procedures is enormous,” she said.

In deciding whether a procedure is illegal, the ministry will rely on Constitutional Court decisions, she said, adding that the ministry might “try to determine itself whether certain procedures were illegal or unconstitutional”.

“The final decision will be made together with Interior Ministry and the government, after also having consulted external experts and other stakeholders who may help to address these issues.”

However, procedures launched legally for violence will not be abolished. “Violence is inadmissible and it is also not a constitutionally protected category.”

Švarc Pipan also commented on warnings by jurists that offence procedures cannot simply be halted, saying the issue would have to be approached systemically, including by passing a systemic bill.

“Special systemic bills have already been passed in Slovenia, so this is no novelty. But we will have to think carefully how to stop offence procedures so as not to cause new injustices.”