Human rights education

BHRS submits its opinion to the Constitutional Court

In March 2023 the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia initiated a case on the compatibility with the Satversme of legal norms providing for the expiry of the term of permanent residence permits and preconditions for obtaining a new permit for citizens of the Russian Federation. In the course of the examination of the case, the Constitutional Court, inter alia, heard the opinion of BHRS, as an invited party, on the lawfulness of the restriction of the applicants' fundamental rights.  

The applicants were citizens of the Russian Federation who had been issued permanent residence permits. According to the contested norms, the permanent residence permits issued to them will expire after a certain period of time.  However, in order to obtain a permanent residence permit again, the applicants must provide proof that they have mastered the Latvian language. In this context, the Constitutional Court examined the compliance of the contested norms with the principle of protection of legitimate expectations (Article 1 of the Satversme), the principle of equality (Article 91 of the Satversme), the right to inviolability of private life (Article 96 of the Satversme) and the prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens (Article 4 of Protocol 4 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms).  

BHRS, both in writing and in its oral opinion at the hearing, indicated that the contested regulation could be prima facie compatible with fundamental rights and human rights, at the same time asking the Constitutional Court to assess whether the contested norms were adopted in compliance with the principle of good law-making as developed by the Constitutional Court itself. The BHRS also stressed that, of course, the Russian Federation's waging of war in Ukraine and other actions which directly or not so directly threaten all European democratic values must be taken into account. However, even these circumstances cannot be used as a general justification for any action against citizens of the Russian Federation.

By judgment of 15 February 2024 in Case No 2023-04-0106, it was held that the contested norms comply with Article 1, Article 91 and Article 96 of the Satversme, as well as Article 4 of Protocol 4 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The full text of the judgment is available on the website of the Constitutional Court (in Latvian).