Forcing people to fund their own Covid testing is unconstitutional, Armenia's Constitutional Court rules
Constitutional Court of Armenia found compulsory testing funded by citizens unconstitutional
The Constitutional Court of Armenia found compulsory testing of residents at their own expense contrary to the basic law of the country ( this refers to the PCR tests that determine the infection of the coronavirus). The opposition parliamentary faction Hayastan (Armenia) applied to the court with a request to give an opinion on the constitutionality of the new order of the Minister of Health.
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By order of the minister, all employed citizens of Armenia who have not yet been vaccinated must submit to the employer a certificate of vaccination against coronavirus or a negative test result every two weeks, starting from October 1, 2021.
Otherwise, both employees and employers must pay fines. From December 1, all citizens were obliged to take the test every week. Both decisions do not apply to those who have already received the first dose of the vaccine, those with serious contraindications to vaccination and pregnant women.
Those who have not submitted the relevant documents on time, according to the regulation, cannot go to their workplace. The employer has the right to fire employees for a certain number of unworked days.
Thus, the Armenian government intended to stimulate the population to vaccinate against the coronavirus and avoid a new lockdown.
A certain result of these measures is obvious – the percentage of vaccinated people has increased in the country, the next wave of coronavirus, which was gaining strength, began to decline.
The opposition announced that vaccination of the population is important and necessary, but indirect coercion to vaccinate, especially at their own expense, is illegal.
Court decision: the phrase “at their own expense” is contrary to the constitution
“In the sentence “an employee must undergo PCR testing at their own expense”, the words “at their own expense” is recognized as contradicting Part 1 and 2 of Art. 6th, as well as Article 39th of the Constitution”, announced the chairman of the court Arman Dilanyan.
The minister’s order was adopted at the end of August, a month later, 1/5 of the deputies of the National Assembly appealed it to the Constitutional Court. The oppositionists said that this decision “objectively angered a significant part of the population”, therefore they will propose to the Constitutional Court to suspend it.
At the same time, they emphasized that they do not oppose vaccination, but believe that the decision, whether to vaccinate or not, should be made by voluntarily, deliberately and not under pressure.
In addition, opposition MPs argued that in the event of coercion to vaccinate or take PCR tests, the state should bear these costs.
Ministry’s reaction: “It is not clear who will pay”
After the decision of the Constitutional Court, the Ministry of Health issued a statement, which emphasizes that the court considered it legal and constitutional to require testing. And the decision on the unconstitutionality of citizens bearing the costs of the mandatory PCR testing raised questions in the ministry, in particular, who exactly will pay for testing.
This question is now being asked by the residents of the country themselves, since everyone realizes that the Constitutional Court has not canceled the ministry’s decision on the compulsory testing. Social media users are discussing whether employers will now pay for the tests, or whether the state will bear these costs. Some hope that they will be refunded the sums already spent on tests.