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National state of emergency, a measure to curb the coronavirus

Exceptional situations are also regulated in the countries' constitutions. Even in the worst scenarios, the intention is to maintain public order and guarantee the fundamental rights of all citizens. The pandemic situation generated by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2The disease, which causes COVID-19, has been the reason why many of the world's nations have appealed to decree states of exception and emergency.

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) categorized COVID-19 as a pandemic control measures in many of the countries have been tightened. By that time, 118,000 cases had been reported in 114 countries and 4,291 people had died from complications resulting from the disease. Two days after this announcement, on March 13, Venezuela confirmed the first two cases of infection, involving two passengers on flights from Spain.

State of emergency in Venezuela

With the announcement, the government of Nicolás Maduro suspended flights from Europe and Colombia for one month.. The health system was also declared a permanent emergency, and the Ministry of People's Power for Health decreed 46 health care centers as sentinel hospitals to treat possible affected patients.

On the same day, one of the most important measures was taken from a legal point of view in response to the situation.The State of Alarm was decreed in accordance with Article 338 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. In which it is mentioned the assumptions where it can be called in the event of "catastrophes, public calamities, or other similar events that seriously endanger the security of the Nation or its citizens.".

The State of Alarm is part of the so-called States of Exception. These are contemplated in the Venezuelan legislation, which can only be decreed by the President of the Republic in Council of Ministers. Regarding the States of Exception, Article 337 of the Constitution identifies them as "....circumstances of a social, economic, political, natural or ecological nature, which seriously affect the security of the Nation, of the institutions and of the citizens, in which respect the powers available to deal with such events are insufficient. In the face of these phenomena, constitutional guarantees may be temporarily restricted, except for the rights referred to life, prohibition of incommunicado detention and torture, the right to due process, the right to information and other tangible human rights.

It should be noted that the State of Alarm does not interrupt the functioning of the organs of the Public Power.However, it temporarily suspends, in the laws in force, the articles incompatible with the measures taken. The maximum time for which a State of Alarm may be declared is 30 days, which may be extended for 30 more days if necessary, unlike the State of Economic Emergency, whose duration is a maximum of 60 days, which may be extended for an equal period, and the State of Internal or External Commotion, which may be declared for up to 90 days, and may be extended for a similar period. 

The extension of the terms of the State of Exception must be approved by the National Assembly. and may be revoked by it or by the National Executive, before the indicated time, if the conditions that activated it were to be suspended. The states of this nature in Venezuela are reviewed and developed by the Organic Law on States of Exception, whose wording expands those rights that may not be restricted, which are mentioned below:

  1. Life.
  2. Recognition of legal personality.
  3. Protection of the family.
  4. Equality before the law.
  5. Nationality.
  6. Personal liberty and the prohibition of the practice of forced disappearance of persons.
  7. Personal physical, psychological and moral integrity.
  8. Not to be subjected to slavery or servitude.
  9. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
  10. Legality and non-retroactivity of laws, especially criminal laws.
  11. Due process.
  12. Constitutional protection.
  13. Participation, suffrage and access to public service.
  14. Information.

The aforementioned special law also states that these states can only be declared in the event of extremely serious objective situations. that make the ordinary means available to the State to face them insufficient. Once a State of Alarm, or a State of Exception in general, has been decreed, the President of the Republic has the power to delegate its execution, totally or partially, to governors, mayors, garrison commanders or any constituted authority.

Any natural or legal person, whether public or private, must cooperate with the competent authorities. for the protection of persons, goods and places, being able to take charge of extraordinary services. Non-compliance or resistance to this point will be sanctioned. Likewise, this Organic Law reflects that it is feasible under these states the decision to limit or ration the use of services or articles of basic necessity, as well as the taking of measures to ensure the supply of markets and the operation of services.

From Alan Aldana & Abogados we recommend to stay at home and comply with the guidelines and protocols dictated by experts in the health area. Likewise, we reiterate our commitment and willingness to attend requests through our electronic channels.

Sources consulted