As we write this text, MPs in parliament are debating the renewal of Portugal’s State of Emergency. But the outcome is already a given. And President’s Marcelo’s new decree brings with it new limits to rights and liberties.
Jornal Económico stresses there are “significant differences in relation to (measures) in place up till the end of this Thursday”.
Two new points have been included regarding the ‘freedom to learn and teach’ – namely with the prohibition or limitation of ‘face-to-face’ classes and the suspension of the right to the protection of personal data (see here for more details)”.
The new decree also opens the way to the “possibility of product rationing and price control, of (citizens) not being able to accumulate public and private functions, as well as the reduction or suspension of property or capital income”.
Says the online: “with regard to the suspension of the exercise of the right to property and private economic initiative, the new State of Emergency decree refers to ‘centralised acquisition, by direct agreement, with priority or exclusive character, of stocks and/ or the national production of certain essential goods’ as well as the possibility of adopting ‘price control measures and combating speculation and/ or hoarding of certain products and materials’ thus opening the doors to eventual rationing”.
It also refers to the “temporary modification of the terms and conditions of long-term execution contracts” , says JE, suggesting this refers to “the perception of rents, interest, dividends and other property or building income. Capital”.
For key workers, like those in the health service, civil protection, police, defence and other ‘activities necessary for the treatment of patients’ there is the possibility of ‘civil requisition’ and a widening of the suspension of the right to strike. There is also a clause that suspends the rights of syndicates (unions) to be involved in the “elaboration of labour legislation”, on the basis that this right “could represent a delay in the introduction of urgent legislative measures”.
The online continues: “smaller but still relevant is the change to the right to move and settle”. Compulsive confinement to reduce risk of contagion “no longer has to take place at home or in a healthcare establishment”. ‘Competent authorities’ will now be empowered to specify “another place”, to be defined by them.
Praising the ‘exemplary behaviour’ this far of the majority of Portuguese, the president’s decree stresses the need for what he calls “the very limited suspension of rights” that have not “obliterated the right of individual liberty”, warning that for those that do not respect the terms of Portugal’s State of Emergency there will be “recourse to sanctions of a criminal nature to assure compliance”.
For the tabloid press, these changes have been translated as “Tough penalties for anyone breaking quarantine”, “New emergency enforces more rigorous measures” and “Taxes threaten future of companies”.
Portugal’s renewed State of Emergency will begin from midnight tonight and run till April 17.