To Derogate (and Notify), or Not to Derogate (and Not to Notify), that is the Question! : An Analysis of the Legal Framework of the COVID-19 State of Emergency in the Republic of Bulgaria and ECHR Practice
This paper examines the challenges that States face in times of emergency as regards their constitutional framework, the imposition of restrictive measures such as lockdowns and the challenging balance to uphold and fulfil human rights obligations and the rule of law. Bulgaria has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with the promulgation of the Law of the State of Emergency in March 2020. The State powers in emergency circumstances are not unlimited. The legal framework of the Bulgarian public health emergency is analyzed through the dual lens of constitutional limitations and the Article 15 ECHR derogation regime. The work provides a comparative analysis of the procedural notification practice of various States under the ECHR and ICCPR. The derogation regime and relevant principles such as proportionality and margin of appreciation are thoroughly examined. States should strike the proportionate balance to protect public health and apply the widest possible array of human rights protections.