ZAGREB, March 31 (Croatia Sun News) – Forty-four civil society organisations have issued a joint statement in a comment on draft amendments to the Electronic Communications Act, warning that tracking any mobile phone in the country is not a measure designed to protect against coronavirus but rather an unnecessary breach of human rights.
“We have all been giving up on activities that are important for our lives on a daily basis, showing patience, responsibility and trust in the competent institutions. But the trust given to politicians will be betrayed if the measures that are being adopted are not geared towards preventing the disease and its consequences but are rather misused by the authorities through unrestricted tracking of every person’s mobile phone,” the organisations say.
They warn that some of the government’s actions, including a recent failed proposal by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic for the parliament to transfer its powers to the government, as well as plans for amending labour legislation to restrict workers’ rights, leave room for doubt in the government’s measures and could bring into question everything good made so far.
The last worrying proposal is the government’s bill of amendments to the Electronic Communications Act which envisages the possibility of tracking any mobile phone in the country, which, the associations say, goes beyond the protection of public health.
“Also, the measure is ineffective because it can be bypassed by simply leaving one’s mobile at home. The amendments also do not include any regulations on the duration of the tracking nor do they regulate the handling of collected data, that is, their storing and destruction, or supervision of data collection,” the association say.
They also recall that in emergency situations, such as the current coronavirus pandemic, Article 17 of the Constitution says that temporary restrictions of constitutional rights must be adopted by a two-thirds majority and not a simple majority, which is how the ruling coalition wants to have them adopted.
In extraordinary situations such as the coronavirus pandemic, when room and time for a broad democratic discussion are restricted, temporary restrictions of human rights should be introduced by a broad consensus of parliament members, the associations stress.