Reminiscent of the past regime? Constitutional Court president condemns spring border closure

Pavel Rychetsky, president of the Constitutional Court, spoke with Czech Television about Czechs not being allowed to leave the country this past spring.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 30.11.2020 11:49 (updated on 30.11.2020)

The government-mandated closure of Czech borders preventing people from leaving the country this past spring was unconstitutional, Pavel Rychetsky, president of the Constitutional Court, told Czech Television yesterday.

The government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) locked-down the border March 16 after the first state of emergency was declared, due to what the he called a reaction to the coronavirus pandemic. At that time, it banned not only foreigners' entry to the Czech Republic, but also Czech citizens wanting to leave their own country.

"All of a sudden, the government closed the borders and no one was allowed to travel from the Czech Republic. This is absolutely unconstitutional," Rychetsky said.

"The government can close the border during a crisis situation, but only for people wanting to enter the country. Because of our experience with the past totalitarian regime, the constitution expressly states that no one can be prevented from leaving the country," he added.

Rychetsky said the state of emergency suited any ruling party(s) because it always opens many doors for control of the country. Unfortunately, under the state of emergency and similar emergency situations the judiciary is crippled because it must observe trial rules and does not have a chance of acting fast because it must observe trial rules and cannot act quickly, he added.

He said he did not expect the post-Communist ethic would change so fast, although he did not expect it to last forever. "After November [the overthrow of the Communist regime] I did not expect a person like we have now to become the prime minister, given his past," Rychetsky said.

"I thought [that time] had definitively ended," he added in a veiled reference to Slovak-born PM Andrej Babis, who has been accused of collaborating with the Communist Secret Service, StB. Babis has always denied the allegations.

Rychetsky, a former colleague of President Milos Zeman, took the opportunity to comment on the Czech president's latest actions.

"It worries me that a man I thought who was an undoubtedly liberally-minded humanist has succumbed to various xenophobic and populist attitudes over the years," he said.

Rychetsky said he believed that when Zeman was running for president in the last election, he only placated the public to get into office.

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"The public yields to various populist slogans and anyone wanting to win the post of president in a direct vote must use them. This is the tragedy of the direct vote. However, I am awfully sorry that he continued with this even after his re-election," he added.

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