11 April, 2013
According to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which is binding to Latvia, concept “race” is realizable in broader meaning and it includes such motives of commitment of an offence, which are grounded by “ethnic” or “national” origination of an individual – compilation of case-law performed by the Supreme Court indicates.
Compilation of case-law in cases on triggering of racial, national and ethnic hatred was performed due to the fourth report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance published on Latvia, which indicates lack of consolidated case-law in relation with application of the Section 78 of the Criminal Law.
Case-law compilation is prepared, having analysed conclusions expressed in legal doctrine, rulings of Latvian courts on application of the Section 78 of the Criminal Law and international human rights sources and practice of application of those, which is binding for Latvia.
In summary, theoretical insight in content of concept of “speech triggering hatred” and “hatred crime”, as well as fundamental principles of segregation of “speech triggering hatred” from individual’s right to freedom of expression is given. Qualification of cases, when crime committed by individual corresponds not only with features of corpora delicti of the Section 78 of the Criminal Law, but also with those of other crimes, is also analysed. Segregation of the Section 78 of the Criminal Law from other sections of the Criminal Law is also examined.
Case-law compilation indicates that standards of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which is binding to Latvia, delegates procedural responsibility to states to investigate suspicions on racial motivation of an offence effectively. Non-observance of this procedural duty itself may serve as a ground of invasion of human rights. If investigation materials or actual circumstances of a case raise doubts that an offence was committed on the ground of racial motives, but that was not investigated in materials of criminal case, courts should assess necessity to adopt ancillary decision, turning attention of investigation authorities to defects admitted in pre-trial proceedings.
Conclusions of compilation of case-law are grounded on 25 rulings of Latvian courts on application of the Section 78 of the Criminal Law, which were adopted between February, 2005, and September, 2012. Compilation also contains three rulings on application of the Section 150, 228 and 74¹ of the Criminal law analysed.
The Supreme Court performed study in cooperation with doctor of law Arturs Kucs.
Complete text of study is available on the home page of the Supreme Court in chapter Judicature/ Compilations of case-law decisions/ Criminal Law
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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