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Section 37: States of Emergency

It may be necessary for a government to declare a state of emergency to deal with a major problem facing the country. During a state of emergency the Bill of Rights is usually affected.

The government can only call a state of emergency when:

  • The life of the nation is threatened by war, invasion, disorder, natural disaster or other public disorder, and
  • The state of emergency is necessary to restore peace or order

The state of emergency and any laws passed as a result of the state of emergency can only last for 21 days, unless the national assembly extends this. At least two- thirds (66%) of the members of the national assembly must agree to extend this. They can extend it for 3 months at a time.

There are certain rights that cannot be limited at all, even during a state of emergency. Some of these are:

  • The right to human dignity
  • The right to life
  • The right to equality (race and sex only)
  • Freedom from torture