Even in Times of Crisis – We Must Maintain the Rule of Law
On 3.21.2020, ACRI contacted the Attorney General and expressed concern that governmental agencies have been acting without legitimate authority behind the smokescreen caused by the Coronavirus crisis. For example, this week, a Ministry of Health spokesperson publicized an announcement on a wide range of prohibitions, including a ban on leaving the house for anything aside from urgent needs, and on hosting friends and family members, despite a lack of any legal jurisdiction whatsoever; the Ministry of Health’s Legal Bureau demanded, without any legal authority, that all medical school deans submit a list of all their current students for recruitment purposes in case of a shortage of medical personnel; and on Friday the Ministry of Finance published a set of online guidelines for employers on reducing the amount of employees permitted to enter the office, despite a lack of new emergency regulations having been issued on the matter.
Above all, the Prime Minister has most blaringly informed the public of new restrictions and decrees nearly every evening. Not once has he announced when they will come into effect, and in most cases the instructions still lack authorization, whereas in some instances the policies are yet to be fully formulated. Since the Prime Minister’s declaration on the evening of 19.2.2020, the public mistakenly believed that the isolation policy had come into effect. The media’s publication of a draft of these regulations fueled this impression. Yet in this case, too, articulation of emergency regulations remains incomplete and they are yet to be published.
In the backdrop of all of the above, the Minister of Defense tweeted a message from his personal account encouraging senior government officials to take action, at all costs, to defeat Corona: “If needed, knowingly break the rules!”
In our appeal to the Attorney General, ACRI’s Chief Legal Counsel Dan Yakir wrote: “With no rule of law, the people are harmed – even during this difficult time, public authorities must be held accountable for operating in accordance with the law. As such, we request that you find the appropriate means of ensuring that elected officials and public servants understand the importance of solely adhering to authorized actions, even in the midst of a crisis.”