Limits in Times of Crisis: on Limitations of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Slovenian Constitutional Order

Keywords: human rights and fundamental freedoms, Constitution of Slovenia, limitation of human rights, epidemic, COVID-19 pandemic, state of emergency


The purpose of this article is to discuss the issue of limitations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the 1991 Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia. The discussion is set in the context of a large-scale health crisis, i. e. the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus) and COVID-19 (the disease) epidemic. The article first describes the position of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Slovenian constitutional order, and discusses the possibilities to limit human rights and fundamental freedoms. In this section, the article introduces the concept of ‘limitations on limitations’ (similar to the German Schranken-Schranken) and presents the requirements of such limitations in Slovenian constitutional law. It then turns to the mechanism of temporary suspension and restriction of human rights and fundamental freedoms during a war or state of emergency as foreseen in Article 16 of the Constitution. In the third part, the article discusses the limitations of human rights and fundamental freedoms enacted brought forward by the government measures intended to tackle the epidemic, i.e. the concrete substatutory norms passed between March and October 2020. This article presents selected issues and affected human rights such as freedom of movement, personal liberty, right to health, and freedom of assembly. The final part of the article discusses the concept of ‘limitations on limitations’ that has demonstrated its relevance for the protection of a meaningful level of human rights in the period of the epidemiological crisis.