Cooperative Federalism, Soft Governance and Hard Laws in Australia’s State of Emergency

To date, in Australia, there have been over 5,350 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 26 deaths and over 275,000 tests conducted. The majority of the confirmed cases were acquired overseas. Australia is a Federation with a national government and state and territory governments. This adds complexity to responding to a national crisis. So far, Australia’s response has been characterised by cooperative federalism, at least nominally, primarily through a newly formed National Cabinet. There has been a staged ratcheting up of border controls and executive powers to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19, and a ‘hibernation’ approach to the conduct of business and exercise of fundamental rights. In this post, we discuss the governance model through the National Cabinet, the hard law response at Federal and State and Territory level and the extensive economic interventions.

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COVID-19: State of Disaster in South Africa

As COVID-19 spread across the world, the first reported case in Africa was not until 27 February 2020 in Nigeria; six days later the South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed the first case in South Africa. Since then, cases have increased steadily and the first death in South Africa was recorded on 27 March 2020. COVID-19 has shown its potential devastating impact elsewhere, but it is a particular cause for concern in South Africa.

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Ireland’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Like many countries around the world, Ireland has enacted emergency legislation to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The scope of these powers are vast, impacting on almost every aspect of life in Ireland. Notably, no state of emergency has been declared in accordance with Ireland’s constitutional provisions or under Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

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Indonesia’s Fight against COVID-19: A Battle Over the Meaning of Emergency?

Indonesia is a perfect example of how poorly a country can handle the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). In February, when Indonesia’s neighbouring countries such as Singapore were occupied with the restriction of the entry of foreigners into their territory after the announcement of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, Indonesia’s government under the Presidency of Joko Widodo (Jokowi) introduced the opposite policy which made it easier for foreign tourists (including those from the mainland China) to travel to Indonesia. The purpose of this particular policy according to Jokowi’s government was to exploit the economic gaps which would arise from foreigners’ fears of travelling to Indonesia’s neighbours including Singapore and Thailand.

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Coping with Covid-19 in Portugal: From Constitutional Normality to the State of Emergency

As we write this report, it is unclear how the Covid-19 outbreak will unfold in Portugal. The country reacted quickly to adopt measures aimed at reducing social contact, including the closure of schools and a general ban on non-essential movement. Whether that will prove efficient to avoid the collapse of the national health system and prevent thousands of deaths, only time will tell. In this contribution, we describe and reflect on the action taken by public powers to address the Covid-19 pandemic, considering the situation as of April 9.

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An Executive Emergency: India’s Response to Covid-19

India’s response to Covid-19 has been large in scale, and far-reaching. The country is, at present, under a twenty-one day national “lockdown”, with a near-complete restriction upon the movement of people, the closure of all establishments except those providing “essential services”, and the regular “sealing” of neighbourhoods and areas that are suspected to be Covid-19 hotspots. To understand the legal framework underpinning all of this, it is important to first note that India is a federal republic, with a parliamentary democracy that operates under the framework of a written Constitution, and whose Courts formally exercise powers of judicial review over legislative and executive action. The response to Covid-19, therefore, involves multiple levels of government, and multiple institutional actors.

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Fighting the Virus and the Rule of Law – A Country Report on Norway

Governments across Europe are quick to limit personal freedoms in the name of fighting the pandemic. The case of Norway, however, reveals how the process of adopting these measures can compromise democratic discourse and procedure. The main rule of law challenges we have seen here are an overreach of the authorities of their legal powers, a lack of transparency and exclusion of the public from public decision-making and battle over jurisdiction to regulate between the central government and local authorities. In the end, it is not just our health, but the rule of law that is under threat.

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Fear of Unaccountability vs Fear of a Pandemic: COVID-19 in Hong Kong

When news began to circulate about a novel virus in December 2019, Hong Kong was in the midst of protests that had been going on for months. There were (and continue to be) widespread demands for accountability and democracy, accompanied by a significant degree of public distrust and dissatisfaction towards the Government. Pertinently, the Government had just invoked hugely controversial emergency powers to quell the protests. Hong Kong was also one of the hardest-hit regions during the SARS epidemic 17 years ago, and there was a collective determination not to repeat the tragedy.

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The Coronavirus Crisis-Law in Greece: A (Constitutional) Matter of Life and Death

Each time a crisis emerges, the law is entitled to seize the exceptional moment and contain it, within the limits of democracy and the rule of law. Legal normality, as a vague standard, is usually redefined by the legislator and the courts and rapidly adjusted to reality. The constitutional value of public interest comes into conflict with civil liberties and scholars begin to question the law. The saga of the (Greek) coronavirus crisis-law is, like everywhere, utterly reduced to the proportionality of the exceptional measures of the (Greek) State, but its moral and political implications seem far broader and ambiguous.

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Fighting COVID-19 – Legal Powers, Risks and the Rule of Law: Turkey

In order to ensure a quick and flexible response in fighting against COVID- 19, Turkish presidency and administration preferred to introduce the measures against the pandemic in the form of circulars instead of declaring a state of emergency. This choice is being criticised for opening the way for arbitrariness and undermining the principle of legality.

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