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One country, different quarantines, and a request for habeas corpus

Filipe Consciência's picture
Published: 06/08/20 - Country: Portugal

The authorities responsible for the region of Azores, a Portuguese archipelago, imposed a mandatory quarantine of 14 days on arrival in the region, unlike the rest of the country where there is no mandatory quarantine. This region has been spared in this pandemic, with a very small number of cases - only 179 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, 144 recovered and 16 dead.


Following an appeal by the Public Prosecutor to a lower court decision, the Portuguese Constitutional Court concluded that the unilateral decision of the Azorean entities was unconstitutional.


The situation was triggered by a man residing in the Azores who, upon landing in the archipelago on a flight from Lisbon on May 10, was taken to a hotel, along with the other passengers, where they would have to stay for two weeks in prophylactic isolation, despite of not having any symptoms related to COVID-19.


The man was unable to contact anyone in person, including family, and the hotel “was subject to permanent police surveillance”. The cleaning of the room and clothes had to be done by himself, and his wife was not even given permission to take more clothes.


As for meals, they were taken up to the room “by a hotel employee, who knocked on the door, after which he left, allowing the guest to collect the meal, then collecting the cart”.


The passenger submitted a request for habeas corpus at the Ponta Delgada Court, alleging “illegal deprivation of liberty”. The court found him right, and was eventually released after six days.


For the judges of the Constitutional Court, the Azorean regional government has no competence to impose isolation and this man and the remaining passengers were treated as if they were in prison, without the right to recreation. Despite being “perhaps” a “friendlier” situation because they are in a hotel room, the counselors underline the fact that these people do not even have the right to access “a common space for physical exercise”, as it is allowed to individuals who are in jail.


In response, the President of the Azorean Government contested that it was an absurd decision and an example of anachronistic centralism. He added that he would have to accept the decision, no matter how crazy it was. But it will be the Constitutional Court responsible for allowing outbreaks of infection in the Azores, he concluded.

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Filipe Consciência's picture

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1984, Filipe Consciência did his entire education in Lisbon, entering with 17 years at the Law Faculty of Lisbon University.

After graduating, and before entering the legal labor market, Filipe Consciência accepted the position of employee of a car stand, having in just a few months become department manager and later responsible for two car stands.

In September 2008, Filipe Consciência started working in the office of Pragma founder, Cecília Caria Mendes, beginning  to work with Pragma right away.

Over the years Filipe Consciência has specialized in consumer, labour and commercial law, and also in real estate.

After actively participating with Cecília Caria Mendes in the discussion and drafting of the law that allows the attribution of Portuguese nationality to descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews, since 2015 that Filipe Consciência has been responsible for the office's nationality department, having already delivered several thousand requests for attribution of Portuguese nationality, with great success.
In 2017, Filipe Consciência was invited to become Associate of Caria Mendes Advogados.