Farid Zakaria in his weekly column talked about checks and balances stating that left to his own devices, and unsupervised, President Trump would act with little regard to law, precedent or the Constitution…. And his excesses are not always checked, because other leaders — judges, bureaucrats, generals and, above all, politicians — don’t always want to speak up. It is easier to shut up about the abuses of power, especially inside the president’s own party. It is easier to comply, conform and collaborate.
Ok, so that is the USA.
What about us?
Many countries are now grappling with the issue of personal liberties repressed by the calamity laws put into effect in March, in an effort to flatten the curve and combat Covid19.
Did you know that the calamity ordinance is only valid for 72 hours, and must be rolled over each time?
What does that mean?
That in case of calamity for just 72 hours at the time, the MinPres has unlimited powers, sidelining parliament and other systems of checks & balances in favor of immediate response needed when calamity strikes.
We have been under calamity ordinance for three months.
Is it rolled over every 72 hours?
Isn’t time to replace the calamity ordinance by another set of rules, so that parliament may go back to function in its designated, democratic role?
A few examples of the convenient use of the calamity ordinance, that does away with check & balances:
The MinPres probably used her right to veto the decisions of the MinEdu and reversed them. It didn’t look good for the minister, but it was the right thing to do under the circumstances, and probably only possible under the calamity ordinance.
Remember the MinEdu decided this and that, and during a press conference the MinPres put a kibosh on those plans and handed the process over to a management team to come up with solutions within one year. It will slow reform down, but hopefully it will still happen, because our education platforms need help.
I think that reversal could only have been possible under calamity ordinance.
Another example would be the HHcode, the Health & Happy procedure, designed by the Aruba Tourism Authority. It’s a beautiful plan, we’re all for it, but it has no legal basis, and thus has no teeth, no one could be punished for noncompliance.
Or the declarations by the MinInfra about 2,000 rooms in the next five years and 1,400 in the following, 3,400 rooms total within 10 years, what evaluation is that based on and who decided just like that?
Or the Fast Tracking of medicinal cannabis were these decisions just squeezed in under the protection of the calamity ordinance?
Basically, we need to come up with a new set of rules, you cannot use the calamity ordinance long term. We gotta let the parliament earn its keep and participate in the decision making process as our system of check & balances for all important decisions.
FYI: The Dutch RvS, Raad von State was asked by the 2nd chamber to evaluate the restrictions imposed to slow the spread of CoVid19 in view of their constitutional aspects, and to what extent the medidonan violated our basic human rights, mostly the freedom to move and congregate.
(#13 of 30 Basic Human Rights: Freedom to Move. We all have the right to go where we want in our own country and to travel as we wish. #20 The Right to Public Assembly. We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights.)