21 August, 2021
Moderator Dina Gailite, Veronika Krumina, Sanita Osipova, and Nils Sakss Konstantinovs takes part in the discussion in Cesis
All people have the same level of dignity, because man is a value in itself. However, the superiority of one person over another is currently being cultivated, looking not at what he or she has done, but at what kind of person is born. For example, what is his or her family, a skin colour, a sexual orientation, health problems, etc. This is one of the aspects that Senator Veronika Krumina, the Chair of the Department of Administrative Cases of the Senate, emphasized in the discussion organized by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court within the LAMPA conversation festival.
"Another reason why it is important to talk about human dignity now is that I think we as a society are at the lowest point of the culture of respect," said the Senator. Contempt for the other person, humiliation, showing superiority has become commonplace. Contempt for statements based on assumptions is perceived as a normal element of discussion. And it's not just about anonymous comments, it's commonplace in both the private and public spheres.
The courts also feel this. Courts, however, are generally tolerant of sharper words because they understand that litigation can be emotional. However, in one of the decisions, the Senate has reprimanded the participants in the proceedings that the document submitted to the court cannot be a “bucket of rubbish” for negative emotions and gross insults to the employees of the institution and the court. No matter how complicated the proceedings, other people must be treated in a neutral and dignified manner.
"We have forgotten what it means to have a culture of respect – what it means to respect oneself, to respect one's neighbour, to respect one's opponent or the differently minded. We have forgotten to respect the state, bearing in mind that disrespect for a state official is also disrespect for the state,” said the Senator.
Can human dignity be measured in money? The short answer by Veronika Krimina this question was no. Human dignity cannot be measured in money, in the same was as life, freedom.
In civil cases, the issue is most often not about dignity, but about an insult to honour and reputation, demanding an apology, withdrawal of false information, and monetary compensation. A gratifying trend in the practice of the Senate is that a significant number of such cases are settled by reconciliation.
Whereas, in administrative cases, a person usually does not request compensation from the state, but requests that a specific action be performed or a specific decision be taken. Perhaps this is what reflects the value of human dignity, that is, not its expression in money, but the request for a particular action or decision. Here one can name cases regarding social issues (pensions, benefits), issues related to the body of a deceased person, living conditions of prisoners.
What regards the question of whether dignity can be restored through the courts, the Senator has long been having doubts until she answered that yes, it can be restored. In the matter of dignity, one's subjective feelings are important. And it is important that the court tasked with resolving the dispute says with its authority that the offender has acted disrespectfully. It can bring inner peace and satisfaction. This is also the task of the court in a democratic state governed by the rule of law, namely to protect and ensure respect,” said Veronika Krumina at the conclusion of the discussion.
The participants of the discussion were Veronika Krumina, Chair of the Department of Administrative Cases of the Supreme Court, Sanita Osipova, President of the Constitutional Court, Julija Stepanenko, Member of the Saeima (parliament), and Nils Sakss Konstantinovs, a psychotherapist for teenagers. The discussion will be moderated by Dina Gailite, editor-in-chief of the magazine "Jurista Vards".
A video of the discussion is available here (in Latvian).
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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