Angola: Change to Law Necessary to Respond to COVID-19 - Minister

Luanda — The amendment to the Civil Protection Law, approved Wednesday during a general voting in Parliament, will enable the enforcement of a number of measures to respond to the covid-19 pandemic, outside a scenario of state of emergency.

This was said by the minister of state and head of the Civil Affairs Office to the President of the Republic.

Adão de Almeida was presenting to the MPs the reasons for the change to the juridical regime in force in the country, a Government bill submitted to Parliament with urgent character.

Mentioning the four reasons, the minister spoke of the context of need characterised by the pandemic that could require the adoption of other measures outside the state of emergency currently in force in the country.

"I think it is becoming increasingly clear that the pandemic is not a situation that will be here for a short time, but in any case the situation of the state of emergency does not necessarily have to accompany this situation," he said.

According to him, the purpose is to create a legislative framework that, not being a state of emergency, allows for the existence of a set of rules to deal with any situations of public calamity.

He explained that with these measures, one will be faced with a different domain of constitutional exception and suspension of fundamental rights, that is, under the law in respect, one will not be faced with situations of restrictions to fundamental rights.

In his opinion, under this law, abnormal administrative measures may be applied that in moments of abnormality, without suspending the citizens' fundamental rights.

In general, he said, the requested amendment aims to adapt the law to the 2010 Constitution, since the previous one, in force since 2003, did not provide the Executive with sufficient tools to put in place an effective system of responses to situations of serious collective risk.

For this reason, he stressed, in order to make it more comprehensive, the Executive is proposing a change to the denomination, from Civil Protection Law to Civil Protection and Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Law.

On the other hand, opposition party MPs expressed support for the Executive's legislative initiative, since they believe civil protection to be essential to the functions of the State and fulfils the duty to ensure the right to life, physical integrity and security, but call for its adequacy to the Constitution.

The opposition MPs expressed concern about the law's constitutionality, especially regarding allocation of powers to the Head of State on this matter, a fact that, they understand, should not occur in a context of ordinary law.

The Civil Protection and Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Law was generally approved with 139 votes in favour, none against and 63 abstentions. On Friday, the global debate and final voting will take place.

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