In order to inform about topical questions of European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and in work atmosphere to make a discussion about problematic questions of Latvian case-law, the judge of ECHR from Latvia Ineta Ziemele met judges of the Supreme Court on April 8.

Such meetings in the Supreme Court, as well as visits of judges and employees to ECHR, in order to exchange experience, in limits of opportunities take place regularly.

Ineta Ziemele led a discussion on a more perfect use of the Supreme Court as of cassation instance in provision of protection of human rights in a national level. The judge of the ECHR has stressed two essential topics that are problematic for Latvia – disproportionately long terms of review of cases and disproportion of human rights to acquisition of proofs in criminal cases, using special operative actions, for example, interception of telephone conversations and check of correspondence.

The representative of the ECHR asked the cassation instance to review these questions in frames of opportunities more globally, using all opportunities established at present in procedural laws and, possibly, making necessary amendments in legislation. I. Ziemele stressed meaning of initiative of national courts and judges, if the mechanism of provision of human rights has not been established precisely in the country.

In their turn, judges of the Supreme Court asked the opinion of the judge of the ECHR about situations topical for a present moment, for example, about participation of the advocate in cassation instance, protests of prosecutor in civil cases, encroachment of private property in a process of privatisation, clash of private law and freedom of speech. Also there was activated a question about different case-law of departments of the Senate, while motivating rejections in cassation claims.

Ineta Ziemele also presented information about Protocol Nr. 14 of European Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, which prescribes several events in order to optimise work of the ECHR and which will come into force on June 1, 2010. The Protocol has been open since 2004, but its coming into force was delayed by Russian Federation that ratified it only in January 2010. Unfortunately, improvements of work of the ECHR prescribed in it will not be a solution effective enough, that would allow the court to deal with huge number of petitions incoming every year.

In total, in the ECHR there are approximately 120 000 petitions that are not reviewed. In 2009, 57 000 new claims were submitted, and it is 15% more than in previous years. 360-400 claims come from Latvia every year, and accumulation makes approximately 900 cases. As I. Ziemele informed, if approximately 20% of cases come from other countries, then from Latvia – 50%.

In order to make work of the ECHR more effective and significant, policy of the ECHR in review of cases changes: in the future, the cases will be reviewed not in a chronological order of their arrival, but in essence. As a cases to be reviewed first, are cases about threats to life, inhuman treatment, rights of children and persons seeking for asylum. Cases showing some systematic problems of courts in concrete countries will also be reviewed beyond the queue.

Having made a revision of Latvian cases, 87 cases were activated, which mainly are cases about conditions in prisons and police isolators, regime of life prisoners, and also cases about taking the children away and cases about responsibility of medics.

I. Ziemele also informed about most topical cases that form the case-law and which might be topical also for Latvian courts, for example, about application of imprisonment, use of psychological tortures in examination proceedings, about diplomatic immunity and other questions.

Information prepared by

Head of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court Rasma Zvejniece

E-mail:, telephone: 67020396, 28652211