Exchange of experiences on constitutional issues in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
North Macedonia

On 8 October 2020, IRZ and the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia organised an exchange of experiences on constitutional court jurisdiction in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic.

The event was attended locally as well as online. Judges from the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia participated in person in the conference room at the Constitutional Court, under observance of healthcare guidelines. All other contributors and participants, including research staff at the court, joined the exchange of experiences online.

Sali Murati, President of the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia, and Dr. Stefan Pürner from IRZ started by welcoming the participants to the event. The German Ambassador, Anke Holstein, then gave a welcome speech in which she expressed the hope that North Macedonia’s EU accession talks would start this year. She also referred to the great importance of IRZ activities in North Macedonia in view of the EU’s focus on the rule of law.

Sali Murati and Prof. Dr. Udo Steiner, a former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, gave speeches presenting their own national perspectives. The speeches provided an overview of case law in connection with restrictions to contain the pandemic. They both agreed that the proportionality test is central to constitutional courts in both countries, conceding relatively broad discretionary powers in their rulings, but they also emphasised the fact that restrictions must always be adapted to suit the current rate of infection. Unlike in Germany, the measures introduced to deal with the pandemic in North Macedonia are mostly introduced by way of decrees with the force of law and not through parliament.

The President of the Constitutional Court, Sali Murati, also referred in his lecture to the fact that the main challenge facing constitutional jurisdiction during the pandemic is not just about ruling on an increased number of cases of general importance within a short amount of time, but about maintaining the ability of the court to function. So, whilst the North Macedonian Parliament suspended its activities during the state of emergency, the Constitutional Court was able to continue to fulfil its responsibilities throughout. To conclude his lecture, Mr Murati emphasised the importance of constitutional courts maintaining active press and publicity work during the crisis.