Enforced wearing of masks declared unconstitutional
25 January 2021
The police tribunal in Brussels issued a judgment on 12 January acquitting a man summoned for non-wearing of a mask, according to his lawyer, Hélène Alexandris. The judge concluded that the enforced wearing of the mask in public space was unconstitutional. Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said the public prosecutor has appealed against the decision.
The court recalled that the two articles of law relating to public security, the ministerial order of 30 June 2020, on the basis of which the infringement was established, were exceptions to the principle of freedom of movement.
The judge recognised that the current health situation justifies a restriction of freedom of movement and the imposition of certain measures. However, he considered that these measures must have a legal basis – parliament had not legislated to authorise the restrictive measures taken by the various ministers since the beginning of the crisis – and that they must be compatible with the other rights in force.
More specifically as regards the wearing of masks, it is clear that the minister is dealing in the same way with different situations, i.e. cases in which people find themselves alone on the street or, on the contrary, in a shopping street in the company of many fellow citizens. To settle different situations in an identical manner is a violation of the principles of equality and non-discrimination.
On 9 August, the offender had been checked at the Abattoirs d’Anderlecht without wearing a face mask. The offence is based on the ministerial order of 30 June 2020 which imposes on the population numerous measures drastically restricting individual liberties, in an attempt to slow down the coronavirus epidemic.
The Minister of the Interior reacted by stressing that
the ministerial decision, which is the legal basis for the application of the corona measures, remained. The rulings handed down by the Council of State in recent months also confirm the legal bases on which the measures of the ministerial decree are based.
Mrs Verlinden also pointed out that the public prosecutor’s office had appealed against this decision of the Brussels tribunal.
Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)