Definition of state of emergency
state of emergency (plural states of emergency)
- A government decree that a particular situation requires the implementation of pre-arranged responses on a large scale.
- The status quo following such declaration.
A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend certain normal functions of government, alert citizens to alter their normal behaviors, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale for suspending civil liberties. Such declarations usually come during a time of natural disaster, during periods of civil disorder, or following a declaration of war (in democratic countries, many call this martial law, most with non-critical intent). Justitium is its equivalent in Roman law.
In some countries, the state of emergency and its effects on civil liberties and governmental procedure are regulated by the constitution, or a law that limits the powers that may be invoked or rights that may be suspended during an emergency. In many countries, it is illegal to modify the emergency law or constitution during the emergency.
State-of-emergency law in selected countries
In Malaysia, if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security, or the economic life, or public order in the Federation or any part thereof is threatened, he may issue a Proclamation of Emergency making therein a declaration to that effect.
In the history of Malaysia, a state of emergency was declared by the then-colonial government of Britain. The state of emergency lasted from 1948 until 1960 to deal with the communists led by Chin Peng.
Thiery Rommel, the European Commission's envoy to Malaysia, told Reuters by telephone on November 13, 2007 (the last day of his mission) that, "Today, this country still lives under (a state of) emergency." Although not officially proclaimed as a state of emergency, the Emergency Ordinance and the Internal Security Act had allowed detention for years without trials.
In the United Kingdom, the Monarch, the Privy Council, or the Prime Minister can make emergency regulations under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 if there is a serious threat to human welfare, the environment, or in case of war or terrorism. These regulations last for seven days unless confirmed otherwise by Parliament.
The last time that a state of emergency occurred in the UK was in 1974, when Prime Minister Edward Heath invoked it in response to increasing industrial action.
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