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On the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

The conclusion of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania of 24 January 1995

ON THE CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS

 Summary

The case was initiated by the President of the Republic of Lithuania. His inquiry requested a conclusion whether Articles 4, 5, 9, 14 as well as Article 2 of Protocol 4 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms were in compliance with the Constitution. The inquiry was based on the fact that the working group for the preparation of a comparative analysis of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the Constitution, drew the conclusion that some articles of the Convention and its Protocols may contradict the provisions of the Constitution (or fail to comply with them according to the scope).

Arguments were provided that Section 1 of the Convention defines human rights and freedoms and it is the duty of every state to secure to everyone within their jurisdiction those rights and freedoms. According to Paragraph 3 of Article 138 of the Constitution, the Convention, as well as any other international treaty ratified by the Seimas, is a constituent part of the legal system of the Republic of Lithuania and is equally applied with other laws.

The Constitutional Court after a general analysis of the Convention and the texts of the Constitution observed that neither the Constitution nor the Convention contains a complete and final list of human rights and freedoms. This is also confirmed in Article 18 of the Constitution which establishes that “human rights and freedoms shall be innate”. No legal act may establish an exhaustive list of inborn rights and freedoms. Furthermore, none provision of the Constitution or the Convention which establishes human rights and freedoms allows the assertion that the Constitution prohibits some actions, and that the Convention defines them as one or another right or freedom.

The Constitutional Court concluded that Articles 4, 5, 9, 14 and Article 2 of Protocol 4 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms are in compliance with the Constitution.

 Headnotes

The legal system of the Republic of Lithuania is based on the fact that no law or other legal act as well as international treaties may contradict the Constitution. Otherwise, the Republic of Lithuania would not be able to ensure the legal protection of the rights and freedoms recognised by the Convention, which is prescribed in Article 13 of the Convention containing the basis for the implementation of the provisions of the Convention in the internal legal system of every state. National authority, while implementing legal protection, must directly apply constitutional norms and realise the provisions of the Convention.

It should be emphasised that the requirement that the norms of the domestic law must literally comply with the contents of the norms of the Convention is not directly formulated in the Convention as the realisation of this requirement would not be possible. Neither it is strictly specified in the Convention which ways should be employed for the realisation of human rights established in the Convention. Every state itself establishes the ways it will use to ensure the application of the provisions of the Convention.

The interpretation of the compatibility (relation) of the norms of the Constitution and the Convention must be meaningful, logical and not only literal. Literal interpretation of human rights alone is not acceptable for the nature of the protection of human rights.

The fact that the fundamental rights, freedoms and the guarantees in one or another verbal form are formulated in the Constitution does not yet allow the assertion that these wordings are in all cases absolute in the sense of their application. A law may provide a more extensive formulation of human rights, freedoms and their guarantees than their literal expression in concrete article or its part in the Constitution. Therefore, their broader application is possible only if it is provided by another legal act which has the power of law.