Latvia to have to respond to 10 human rights complaints

  • 2000-11-16
STRASBOURG (BNS) - The Latvian government will soon be required to provide replies to another five or six complaints filed with the European Court of Human Rights and inquiries are being prepared in respect of three or four more cases against the Latvian state.

Egils Levits, a Latvian judge with the court, told BNS that so far the Latvian government had only sent a reply to the complaint by ex-banker Alexander Lavent currently on trial for large-scale embezzlement in connection with the Banka Baltija scandal.

Levits said that the European Court of Human Rights holds about 150 complaints from Latvia, but most of them were in the early stages of processing or had not yet been registered.

About 30 applications have been rejected without review as ungrounded. The number of complaints against Latvia is comparatively small, said Levits, adding that there are thousands of applications from Russia, Poland and Ukraine, for example.

"Taking into account the size of Latvia's population, the number of complaints filed is below average," the judge said.

A large number of complaints are about issues outside the human rights court's competence, such as social problems. Some "rather interesting and complicated" complaints deal with the right to a fair trial and some applications contain complaints about violation of the right to privacy.

Complaints about the right to appeal against decisions by officials were usually complicated because of "blank spots" in several sections of Latvian law, for example, regarding election rights, Levits said.

He added that complaints about long pre-trial periods were a new problem for Latvia. Such complaints had appeared only recently. "If this problem is not solved, those cases will reach us in Strasbourg in a few years," the human rights court judge said.

Levits said there were no system errors in Latvia's criminal and civil law. But problems occur in administrative cases due to a lack of effective and just control over the country's executive. Democratic practice has not yet fully taken root in Latvia.

In part it is a matter of legislation and in part that of interpretation of rights. "Neither meets the requirements of a regular democracy. This represents the weakest point in the Latvian judicial system," Levits said.