Pandemic law has ‘insufficient privacy protections’ says Institute

The so-called ‘pandemic law’ which the government wants to pass in preparation for a future health emergency, contains not enough protections for privacy, according to the federal institute for the protection and promotion of human rights (FIRM).

The pandemic law is the government’s response to a growing tide of expert opinion which argues that the measures taken to combat the spread of Covid-19 – measures like a travel ban, a curfew and limits on how many people may gather together in public or in private – are either unconstitutional, in breach of human rights or both.

The Council of State has already rejected a case claiming the curfew was unconstitutional, although the definitive opinion on such a matter would be the province of the Constitutional Court.

And faced with the growing wave of opinion from legal and political sides, the government is working on a new law which would cover such situations in the future.

However according to FIRM, the version of the planned law – currently being prepared under the authority of federal home affairs minister Annelies Dedonder (CD&V) with a helping hand from health minister Frank Vandenbroucke (sp.a) – that has been proposed contains too few protections of proportionality – is the measure proposed really necessary? – and transparency.

At the same time, the law places too much responsibility in the hands of a single minister – the home affairs minister, in this case – and could have a tendency to reinforce existing inequalities.