Restrictions on prison inmates' participation in local elections ruled unconstitutional

  • 2022-03-31
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The Constitutional Court has ruled a provision preventing prison inmates from participating in local elections in breach of the Latvian Constitution, LETA was told at the court. 

The court opened the case after former Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs (For Latvia and Ventspils) lodged a complaint contesting the provisions of the Law on the Election of Local Government Councils that had prevented him from voting in the last municipal elections while in prison. 

The Constitutional Court rejected the parliament's request to drop the proceedings, arguing that the infringement of Lembergs' fundamental rights had been based on the disputed provision and that he had had no real and effective possibilities to defend his fundamental rights the exercising of which would be a precondition for the fulfilment of the requirements of Paragraph 2 of Section 19.2 of the Law on the Constitutional Court.

The court indicated that the opportunity to vote in local elections has to be provided to all suspects, accused or defendants who are subject to arrest regardless of their legal status. 

The Constitutional Court therefore concluded that, according to Article 101 of the Latvian Constitution, a Latvian citizen that has been put under arrest as a measure of security is still a proper citizen of Latvia and as such has the right, as provided by law, to participate in the work of local governments.