Written by Monica Yelinyan - Based in The Netherlands
On Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 11:00 a.m., the District Court of The Hague in the Netherlands heard the proceedings of Viruswaanzin (“Virus Madness”) against the State. Viruswaanzin demanded an immediate ban on the granting and lifting of the currently still valid measures taken by the government because of COVID-19.
Viruswaanzin is a group started by Willem Engel and Jeroen Pols. They are fighting for the return of freedom, which has disappeared mainly because of the corona measures. They are fighting for the preservation of a democratic constitutional state. On their website they report the following about litigation: "We notice that many judges try to do their job well, but unfortunately also the judiciary is not insensitive to the increasing influence of the government (...) Yet in our opinion litigation is still an effective means. Why is it still effective? In the absence of critical questions from parliament, regulators and the media, our policymakers always hide behind inconsistent and unmotivated propositions. This is not possible in court. The government will have to defend itself substantively on all the arguments we put forward. And this is of great importance in the COVID-19 case: even if our claims are rejected, it is forced for the first time to account for the content of its policy. And with that, in our opinion, this battle eventually leads to a victory inside or outside the courtroom".
Viruswaanzin also makes it clear in the right of summons and during the proceedings that the measures contained in the emergency ordinance mean far-reaching restrictions on numerous human rights. As an example they mention the church services that are restricted, but also the rights of association, assembly and demonstration are severely restricted. There is also an infringement of the constitutionally protected right to privacy and house law. The party also makes it clear that in certain disaster situations it may be defensible to consider the protection of the population more important in the event of a clash of fundamental rights. Viruswaanzin also indicates this: "It is possible that, on the basis of the information available at the time, the initial decision taken on 15 March 2020 was lawful. This will have to be investigated later. In any case, allowing the continuation of freedom-restricting measures when it should not have been known much later that COVID-19 does not constitute a real threat is unlawful. All measures should have been lifted immediately.”
Viruswaanzin therefore wants the measures to be lifted immediately and unconditionally.
During the proceedings, the action group Viruswaanzin has indicated that they want another judge to look into the case. This because of the judge's earlier statements about the measures that can be seen as biased. Also, according to Viruswaanzin, the judge did not question the State properly. Jeroen Pols therefore said the following to the judge: "I had hoped that you would put a little more pressure on the other party.”
Until a decision is made on another judge the case cannot proceed.