The President of the Republic extended the state of emergency first declared through Presidential Decree 11/2020, of 20 March 2020, ratified by Law 1/2020, of 31 March 2020, and implemented by the Government through Decree 12/2020, of 2 April 2020, by means of Presidential Decree 12/2020, of 29 April 2020, ratified by Law 4/2020, of 30 April 2020. Consequently, we need to address certain key issues of the regime and how they have been implemented by the relevant acts.

 

What is a state of emergency?

The declaration of a state of emergency is an act carried-out by the President, following consultation of the Council of State and of the National Council for Defence and Security, and that it is subject to a subsequent ratification by the Parliament, which shall determine or allow for the determination of a suspension or limitation of freedoms and guarantees of citizens in case of actual or imminent aggression, serious threat or disturbance of constitutional order or of public calamity.

The state of emergency legal framework is laid down in Article 282 et seq. of the Constitution of the Republic of Mozambique.

 

What are the potential impacts?

In practical terms, the declaration of a state of emergency may involve the partial suspension of certain rights, freedoms and guarantees, as ordered: e.g. a ban on travel or freedom of assembly.

The declaration of a state of emergency grants public authorities powers to adopt the necessary and adequate measures, exempting them from complying with certain formalities in doing so, if necessary with recourse to the Defence and Security Forces. 

Asa rule, the declaration of a state of emergency must abide by the principle of proportionality and be limited, in particular regarding its scope and duration and the resources used, to what is strictly necessary in view of the specific circumstances.

 

Can the State adopt any measures?

The state of emergency cannot affect rights of superior constitutional dignity identified in the law and the Constitution.

The declaration of a state of emergency may not, under any circumstance, suspend or limit the constitutional rights to life, to personal integrity, to personal identity, to civil capacity and citizenship, to the non-retroactivity of criminal law, to the defendants' right of defence or religious freedom.

As for its content, the declaration must specify which rights, freedoms and guarantees are suspended.

The following – general and special – restrictive measures will remain in force for the duration of the state of emergency (see Article 3 of Presidential Decree 12/2020, of 29 April 2020):

(a) adoption of sustainable tax and monetary policy measures to help the private sector tackle the economic impact of the pandemic;

(b) real-time traceability of individuals through geolocation;

(c) shutdown of entertainment or similar establishments or reduction of their opening hours and operations;

(d) supervision of the prices of essential goods for the population;

(e) individuals must self-isolate in their homes or any other appropriate establishment for preventive purposes;

(f) individuals are required to stay in medical facilities as in-patients for therapeutic purposes;

(g) job rotation and other solutions in accordance with the specific job areas;

(h) limitation of internal movements of individuals in any part of the national territory if there is an exponential increase in contamination. A cordon sanitaire may also be established;

(i) limitation to the entry and exit of individuals to/from the Mozambican territory;

(j) preventive measures must be implemented at all private and public institutions and public transport;

(k) public and private events are prohibited;

(l) the issue of entry visas will be suspended, and any visas already issued will be cancelled;

(m) in-person classes are suspended in all public and private schools;

(n) 14-day home quarantine measures are reinforced for all individuals who have recently travelled outside the country, for those arriving in the country and all individuals who have had direct contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19;

(o) promoting and redirecting the industrial sector towards the production of inputs necessary to fight the pandemic;

(p) requisitioning of healthcare, similar and other ancillary services;

(q) suspension of all court and administrative deadlines, including disciplinary proceedings; and

(r) suspension of statutes of limitation and expiry deadlines for all proceedings and procedures.

 

Can measures be imposed to just some parts of the territory?

A state of emergency may be declared regarding all or part of the national territory and must only be declared regarding such area or territory where the measures are deemed required to ensure or restore normality.

In the present case, the declaration of a state of emergency applies to the entire national territory, pursuant to article 1 of Presidential Decree no. 11/2020, of March 30.

 

How long can the state of emergency stay in force for?

The state of emergency shall only last for as long as strictly required to protect the envisaged rights and interests and to restore normality.

Maximum duration is 30 days, without prejudice to any renewal for one or more identical periods if the cause determining it, should subsist. The state of emergency cannot be renewed more than 3 times.

In the present case, the state of emergency was extended for an additional 30 days’ period, beginning at 00.00am on 1 May and ending at 11.59pm on 30 May  2020.

 

What are the consequences of breaching the measures ordered by the authorities during a state of emergency?

Failure to respect the measures ordered by the authorities constitutes a crime of disobedience.

 

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This information is being updated on a regular basis.

All information contained herein and all opinions expressed are of a general nature and are not intended to substitute recourse to expert legal advice for the resolution of real cases.