Considering that a state of emergency was declared by the President, through Presidential Decree no. 11/2020, of 20 March, ratified by Law no. 1/2020, of 31 March, of the Parliament and developed by the Government through Decree no. 12/2020, of 2 April, as amended by Decree no. 14/2020, of 9 April, below you will follow an overview of the essential issues that arise from this regime as well as an explanation on how they have been implemented by the authorities.
What is a state of emergency?
The declaration of a state of emergency is an act carried-out by the President, following consultation of the Council of State and of the National Council for Defence and Security, and that it is subject to a subsequent ratification by the Parliament, which shall determine or allow for the determination of a suspension or limitation of freedoms and guarantees of citizens in case of actual or imminent aggression, serious threat or disturbance of constitutional order or of public calamity.
The state of emergency legal framework is laid down in Article 282 et seq. of the Constitution of the Republic of Mozambique.
What are the potential impacts?
In practical terms, the declaration of a state of emergency may involve the partial suspension of certain rights, freedoms and guarantees, as ordered: e.g. a ban on travel or freedom of assembly.
The declaration of a state of emergency grants public authorities powers to adopt the necessary and adequate measures, exempting them from complying with certain formalities in doing so, if necessary with recourse to the Defence and Security Forces.
Asa rule, the declaration of a state of emergency must abide by the principle of proportionality and be limited, in particular regarding its scope and duration and the resources used, to what is strictly necessary in view of the specific circumstances.
Can the State adopt any measures?
The state of emergency cannot affect rights of superior constitutional dignity identified in the law and the Constitution.
The declaration of a state of emergency may not, under any circumstance, suspend or limit the constitutional rights to life, to personal integrity, to personal identity, to civil capacity and citizenship, to the non-retroactivity of criminal law, to the defendants' right of defence or religious freedom.
As for its content, the declaration must specify which rights, freedoms and guarantees are suspended.
In the present case, through the declaration of a state of emergency a number of restrictive measures where adopted, including, in general:
- Suspension of entry visa issuances and cancellation of visas already issued;
- Compulsory 14-day home quarantine for all persons who have recently travelled abroad, for those arriving in the country and for all persons who have had direct contact with confirmed COVID-19 carriers;
- Suspension of classes from all public and private schools;
- Prohibition of public or private events; and
- Mandatory implementation of prevention measures in all public and private institutions and passenger transport.
Can measures be imposed to just some parts of the territory?
A state of emergency may be declared regarding all or part of the national territory and must only be declared regarding such area or territory where the measures are deemed required to ensure or restore normality.
In the present case, the declaration of a state of emergency applies to the entire national territory, pursuant to article 1 of Presidential Decree no. 11/2020, of March 30.
How long can a state of emergency stay in force for?
A state of emergency shall only last for as long as strictly required to protect the envisaged rights and interests and to restore normality.
Maximum duration is 30 days, without prejudice to any renewal for one or more identical periods if the cause determining it, should subsist. The state of emergency cannot be renewed more than 3 times.
In the present case, the state of emergency began at 00.00am on 1 April and will end at 23.59 on 30 April 2020.
What are the consequences of breaching the measures ordered by the authorities during a state of emergency?
Failure to respect the measures ordered by the authorities constitutes a crime of disobedience.