First and only court session held in Vooglaid versus government case
The Tallinn Administrative Court on Monday heard Varro Vooglaid's complaint against the Government of the Republic where he challenged Estonia's coronavirus certificate requirement as a condition for a person realizing their fundamental rights.
Vooglaid's legal counsel Paul Keres said that, "today was the first and last session in this case that was pretty much us asking questions and the government refusing to answer." The court is set to rule on June 27.
Keres said that the dispute was around whether vaccinated people and those not vaccinated but having recovered from Covid can be treated as differently as the government did in its orders. "Those vaccinated were given a very long Covid certificate, while those who had recovered from the disease but refused to get vaccinated got a much shorter one. We introduced a lot of data to suggest this was arbitrary discrimination. Because if there is any difference between those two groups, it is that those who have recovered stay protected from illness longer than those who have been immunized," Keres told ERR. "The government did not comment on this argument and refused to engage in discussion," he added.
The court also heard positions on whether the introduction of the Covid certificate requirement was legal in the first place. "The question is whether provisions of NETS (the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act – ed.) that made it possible for the government to require certificates are even constitutional. Whether the Riigikogu has given the government too much power with NETS," Keres suggested. "The Riigikogu has surrendered its decision-making capacity to the government, while we live in a parliamentary democracy. This means that all decisions pertaining to fundamental rights need to be made by the parliament and must not be delegated."
The attorney suggested that the fact coronavirus certificates and all other measures have been lifted by now has no bearing on the case. "We can read hopeful articles of how they (certificates – ed.) will return come fall. The case has quite a preventative influence. While NETS is set to be amended, little will change in the grand scheme of things. The government's powers remain the same, with no constraints added. The Supreme Court has said as much in its analysis of the new NETS. We have made the same points in administrative court. Our goal is to stop the government from ordering coronavirus certificate rules at will and in a discriminative manner," he said.
The lawyer admitted that the case is complicated and made up of many different arguments. "From the point of view of rule of law, the matter of constitutionality is paramount. Recent constitutional review practice has never upheld the kind of powers the NETS regulation gives to the government."
Vooglaid is seeking the full revocation of the government order no. 305 from August 23, 2021. He is being represented by sworn attorney Paul Keres and attorney Joonas Põder from law firm LEVIN.
Varro Vooglaid is one of the founders and head of the Foundation for the Protection of the Family and Tradition (SAPTK).
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Editor: Marcus Turovski