President of Spain’s government, Pedro Sanchez, extends State of Emergency as Coronavirus continues to grip the World
Pedro Sanchez, president of the Spanish government, advised the presidents of Spain’s autonomous regions in a video conference call that he was extending the State of Emergency until April 12.
Article 116.2 of the Spanish Constitution states that the government may declare a State of Emergency in a health crisis and this was the step that Sanchez took to stop the spread of Covid-19 with the decree that came into force on March 15.
Announcing the measure on March 13, he stated that the two-week period could be extended and following today’s statement, Spain knows it will now spend Easter under lockdown.
Sanchez was entitled to announce the State of Emergency via decree following a Cabinet meeting although an extension requires parliamentary approval. Since Pablo Casado, leader of the Opposition, has already announced that he is backing the government’s Covid-19 measures, this is likely to be forthcoming.
State of Emergency
MAY initially be called by the government for 15 days during health crises, natural disasters or grave interruptions to public services.
This gives the government the power to limit movement or the presence of vehicles and persons, and entitles it to take over or occupy industries temporarily.
The State of Emergency puts all police forces under the control of the national government.
Any extension to the State of Emergency requires the approval of the Spanish parliament.
State of Exception
THIS is the strictest and toughest set of measures that civilian power can impose in Spain. Lasting 30 days it is applied when the government cannot maintain public order and services or the correct functioning of democratic institutions.
It allows the government to detain any person it considers likely to cause disturbances but does not take away legal rights, including habeas corpus, access to lawyer. Arrests must be supervised by the judiciary.
Homes may be searched, communications intercepted while press, radio and television can be suspended.
The government can call a State of Exception after Cabinet agreement but only after parliamentary approval, as its terms infringe fundamental rights. The initial 30 days may be extended for another 30 but, again, only with the authorisation of parliament.
State of Siege
FORMERLY known as a State of War, the government can put the administration in the hands of the Army during “insurrection or act of force against the sovereignty or independence of Spain.”
A State of Siege is declared only when no other means exist of resolving the conflict and must be approved by parliament with an overall majority after it is proposed by the government. Parliament will determine its extension, the area it covers and conditions.
This affects all the Constitution’s fundamental rights apart from the judiciary’s supervision of arrests and habeas corpus.
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