Distinguishing Limitation on Constitutional Rights from Their Suspension: A Comment on the CUD Case

  • Abdi Jibril Ali


 Suspension of and limitation on fundamental rights and freedoms are justified violations of constitutional rights. Temporary suspension of some fundamental rights and freedoms can be made on the ground of a state of emergency. Since most constitutional rights are not absolute, they can be limited on basis of national security, public safety, public moral, public order, public health, and similar grounds. Although both suspension and limitation should comply with the requirements of necessity and proportionality, they are completely different in their conception and application. However, the Council of Constitutional Inquiry failed to distinguish suspension of constitutional rights from their limitation in CUD v Prime Minister Meles Zenawi Asres. The Council mistakenly held that declaration of the Prime Minister constituted limitation on right of assembly, demonstration and petition. Given its nature and the short period for which it lasted, the declaration should have appropriately held to constitute suspension of those rights.

Keywords: derogation, fundamental rights and freedoms, limitation, state of emergency