12 June, 2007
The practice of the European Court of Human Rights will be discussed in the Departments and Chambers of the Supreme Court (ECHR), the colleagues will be informed about it by the Chairman of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate Pavels Gruzins, the Chairman of the Department of Administrative Cases Valerijans Jonikans, the senator of the Department of Civil Cases Marite Zagere and the Chairman of the Chamber of Criminal Cases Ivars Bickovics who have returned from the experience exchange visit in Strasbourg. The delegations of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General Office were invited to the ECHR on June 4 – 6 by the justice of the European Court of Human Rights Ineta Ziemele from Latvia.
The representatives of the Supreme Court of Latvia met with the ECHR President J.-P. Costa, and the ECHR justices F. Tulken from Belgium, R. Jeger from Germany, E. Mayer from the Netherlands, L. Garlicky from Poland and D. Jociene from Lithuania, as well as the staff of the Secretariat. Pavels Gruzins admits that the meetings with the ECHR justices were intense and valuable exchange of opinions, like a seminar or training about the ECHR work, as well as in relation to the cases filed from Latvia. At present, there are many cases filed with the ECHR from Latvia, but mostly they are old ones, filed already in late 90s when Latvia became a member of the Council of Europe. Apparently, the work load for the Latvian representation in that period was so big that preparation of cases had piled up. As the judges from Latvia concluded, at the present time, as well, there are only some lawyers in the Latvian representation while, for example, in the Lithuanian representation – twenty.
After analyzing the cases filed from Latvia it was concluded that the most frequent reasons for complaints is not granting the right to the accessibility to the court and a fair trial, ungrounded long-term pre-trial imprisonment, as well as insufficient motivation of the court rulings. The ECHR justices have noted that it would be much easier for them to pass decision if they could rely on more complete motivations of the Latvian courts, especially in judgments and decisions of the cassation instance. P. Gruzins stresses that this will be the issue which he will specially highlight in his discussions with the senators of the Department of Criminal Cases.
The Latvian judges in their discussions with the ECHR justices got a confirmation to the fact that it is not the obligation of national courts to translate and release all the court materials requested by the persons wishing to file complaints with the Court of Human Rights. The ECHR accepts applications in any language and if the case is listed for hearings, then the ECHR itself requests the necessary case materials from the national courts.
The Supreme Court judges had also a chance to be present at a court session of the ECHR Grand Chamber which heard the case “Guja vs. Moldova”. The essence of the claim – Guja working in the prosecutor’s office had published as if confidential information and therefore was dismissed from the position. It was interesting for the representatives of our court to watch the manner of conduct of the representative of the government of Moldova in the hearings, and that of the plaintiff’s attorneys. After half an hour of preparation both had to answer the perfect questions of the court, and it had to be acknowledged that the plaintiff’s attorney was “head and shoulders” above. The conclusion – the state must have a highly professional protection of its interests in the ECHR. After the hearings, a term of 15 days is set during which both parties may file additional written explanations, and the judgment is announced when the court has examined and discussed all the arguments.
In Strasbourg, the delegation of the Latvian Supreme Court also had a meeting with the Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia in the Council of Europe Peteris Elferts. Latvia was accepted to the Council of Europe in 1995, and since that time the European Court of Human Rights under the wing of the Council of Europe grants the inhabitants of Latvia the right to express their claims regarding observation of fundamental freedoms of people in Latvia, as well.
Information prepared by Division of Communications of the Supreme Court
Author: Rasma Zvejniece, Head of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court
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