On invitation of the judge Ineta Ziemele from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the senator Peteris Dzalbe from the Department of the Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court Senate, the judge Peteris Opicans from the Chamber of Criminal Cases, the Administration manager Anita Kehre, the consultant Biruta Puke from the Division of Complains, and the assistant Gatis Bardins to the senator of the Department of Administrative Cases of the Senate met in Strasbourg with judges and staff of ECHR and representatives from Latvia working in the Council of Europe.

 On September 20, the delegation from Latvia had a possibility to attend the court session in the case “Kononovs vs. Latvia” after which ECHR would have to decide on accepting the case for reviewing. Vasilijs Kononovs who was declared guilty for committing war crimes by the Chamber of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court on April 30, 2004, has filed an application to ECHR on possible violations of several clauses of the European Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The applicant considers that he has been accused without grounds for offences which at the moment of committing them were not subject to criminal liability, and that he had to spend almost two years in pre-trial detention what damaged his health.

 Later, after the court session, Satu Heikkila, the representative of the Department of execution of the ECHR judgments told the representatives from Latvia about the procedure of execution of judgments. She noted that sometimes the country having lost the case has to introduce amendments to the law thus eliminating the drawbacks of the system. For example, Latvia has a liability to ensure examination of cases in due time.

 The manager of the Department of Constitutional Rights of the Venice Commission Schnutz Dürr spoke about the Venice Commission in which all the member states of the European Council and five other countries are represented. This Commission advises in the field of constitutional rights. For example, the mentioned Commission expressed opinion on introduction of a constitutional complaint in Latvia. At the present moment, the Venice Commission works on the statement on legal councils what could be significant for Latvia, too, in connection with the legal regulation for Legal Council in the new Law on Court System.

 The delegation had a chance to assess also the ECHR library and its wide database http://www.echr.coe.int/Library, getting inspiration for creation of a library in the Supreme Court. The Administration manager promised to supplement the collection of the ECHR library with the latest volumes of Rulings of the Supreme Court Senate.

 P. Dzalbe and P. Opicāns together with the Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia in the Council of Europe Pēteris Kārlis Elferts and the representative of the Cabinet of Ministers in the international human rights institutions Inga Reine discussed applications filed in ECHR against Latvia. The Latvian judges were surprised by the considerable amount of work of ECHR, as well as the ability of the office of the representative of the Latvian government to ensure qualitative representation with rather small administrative resources.

 Besides, A. Kehre, B. Puke and G. Bardins together with I. Ziemele spoke about possible solutions to improve work of the Division of Complaints of the Supreme Court. I. Ziemele pointed out that in Latvia it is necessary to strengthen the principle res judicata eliminating mass complaining on effective judgments. Such necessity is proven also by great number of groundless complains which are received by the Division of Complaints and in which it is requested to initiate disciplinary case against judges on violations during proceedings. The delegation of the Supreme Court concluded the visit by attending the Council of Europe and learning about the principles of its activities.

 This was already the third visit of the Supreme Court delegation to the ECHR. Thanks to the enthusiasm and professional cooperation of I. Ziemele, the representatives of the Supreme Court had a possibility to obtain experience and develop comprehension about protection of human rights. Four representatives from the Constitutional Court visited Strasbourg, as well.

 

 

Information prepared by the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

 

Author: Rasma Zvejniece, Manager of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: 7020396, 28652211