By: Moja Dolenjska
Coalition MPs from the Freedom Movement party (Gibanje svoboda), the Social Democrats (Socialni demokrati – SD) and the Left party (Levica) recently submitted a proposal to the National Assembly for amendments to the Communicable Diseases Act and signed the proposal prepared before the election by the well-known protesters, who call themselves the Voice of the People, who are led by Nika Kovač of the private institute of the Left party, called the Institute of the 8th of March.
The existing Communicable Diseases Act was from 1995 and is pretty obsolete now, and the Janša government tried to update it during the epidemic, but the protesters, hand in hand with the so-called Constitutional Arch Coalition, which were actually the left-wing parties of the opposition, opposed it.
Just remember the many Friday protests and complaints made because of this. Therefore, the Janša government had to adopt decrees instead of updating the law. Let us also add that the number of covid infections in Slovenia is increasing again – namely, this week, there were from 463 to 562 new infections per day, and the sixth wave of the epidemic is expected in the autumn.
And what have the members of the Constitutional Arch Coalition, with the addition of Golob, done so far?
From the proposed amendment, it is clear that the members of the current coalition merely summarised the essential parts of the government decrees from the time of the Janša government. They intend to pass the law under an expedited procedure, without a wider debate. However, this was one of the biggest criticisms of the previous government, as some people often accused it of denying the public the right to debate and propose certain improvements. Let’s not forget about what a stir that had caused.
But the Golob government is now doing the exact thing that they previously accused others of doing. That is why some MPs refused to sign the amendment – namely, Meira Hot, Bojana Muršič and Damijan Zrim from the SD party, and Bojan Čebela (who was previously the Mayor of the Municipality of Borovnica), who replaced Robert Golob in parliament, did not sign it.
What changes do Golob’s people intend to adopt?
With the proposed amendment, the new government will amend the existing Article 39 of the Communicable Diseases Act, which, among other things, stipulates the prohibited or restricted movement of the population, prohibits the gathering of people in schools, cinemas and other public places, and restricts or prohibits the movement of certain types of goods and products.
They will also amend Article 57 of the Communicable Diseases Act, which determines penalties for individuals’ offences
Those who will not isolate and follow the instructions for quarantine, who will not limit physical contact with relatives during quarantine, will not be treated, will evade mandatory vaccination, will refuse or evade protection with drugs, prevent disinfection, refuse or evade mandatory hygienic examinations with counselling, medical examinations and the likes, will have to pay anywhere from 400 to 4,000 euros in fines.
The parents or guardians of a child that abandon their obligations towards the child in the healthcare sense will also be fined 400 to 4,000 euros.
And another thing – the gathering of people, when it is prohibited at the time of danger of spreading of a contagious disease, will be fined with the amount from 1,200 to 12,000 euros.
All of these amendments were prepared by external collaborators and “advisers” of the Golob government – the very same people who have been the biggest opponents of such measures so far, not to mention their opinions on fines and penalties. They were very vocal in demanding that the Janša government withdraw the lawsuits and claims for reimbursements of the costs of unregistered and illegal rallies that happened during its term. When they came to power, first the new Minister of the Interior, Tatjana Bobnar, and then the government, quickly adopted a decision to withdraw all lawsuits against the organiser of the protests, Jaša Jenull, and the costs of police protection in the amount of about 850 thousand euros were passed on to the taxpayers. The fines imposed on individuals have also been “forgiven.” However, it is ironic that the new authorities have now drafted amendments to the law, according to which the penalties will be significantly higher than what we have witnessed so far.
The media report that the Golob government actually used the changes that were prepared by the Legal Network for the Protection of Democracy. In reality, this network is just a front for the following groups – the Legal-Informational Centre for NGOs (PIC), Amnesty International Slovenia (AI), Today Is a New Day (DJND) and the Institute for Culture of Diversity Open (Open). All of them were also part of the pre-election initiative called the Voice of the People. The proposal for the amendment that can be found on the website of the National Assembly also shows that the Law Firm Senica (which is run by Miro Senica and Katarina Kresal) also participated in the preparation of the amendment.
The proposed amendment, which will be accepted by Golob’s government in an expedited procedure, is available at the following link (in Slovenian): dz-rs.si.