ECHR to review complaints by six Portuguese against 32 countries, including Latvia, for failing to act adequately to tackle climate change

  • 2023-09-26
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will be holding a Grand Chamber hearing on Wednesday, September 27 on complaints of six Portuguese youngsters against 32 countries, including Latvia, for failing to act adequately to tackle climate change.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the complaints deal with alleged violations of articles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, such as the right to life, the prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment, the right to privacy and the prohibition of discrimination.

This concerns several Council of Europe member states that are also parties to the 2017 Paris Agreement. In the present case, the applicants allege that the respondent states have failed to fulfil their obligations under the convention to prevent global warming, which is one of the causes of heat waves, notably in Portugal, and which has had a negative impact on both the applicants' living conditions and their health.

The applicants stress that climate change, which the respondent states have not done enough to prevent, will have a particularly significant impact on the applicants as members of the younger generations.

Besides Latvia, the respondent states are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

As per the ECHR's request, to streamline the proceedings, most of the respondent states, including Latvia, have prepared a joint position and representation at the hearing. At the same time, Latvia's interests at the hearing will be represented by Elina Luize Vitola, Head of Office of the Agent of Latvia before the ECHR, and UN Human Rights bodies.

The applicants brought their complaints alleging violations of the Convention before the ECHR on September 7, 2020, and on October 13, 2020, the ECHR decided to give priority to the case in accordance with its Rules of Procedure.

On November 13, 2020, the ECHR sent the case to the respondent States for their comments. On June 28, 2022, the ECHR Chamber decided to refer the case to the Grand Chamber.