The Constitutional Court visited by a delegation from the European Court of Human Rights
The Constitutional Court was visited by a delegation from the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter referred to as the ECtHR), led by the Vice-President of that Court, Jon Fridrik Kjølbro. The judges of that Court Prof. Dr. (HP) Egidijus Kūris and Prof. Dr. Marko Bošnjak came with him. The guests met with the President of the Constitutional Court, Danutė Jočienė, and its justices.
The most recent jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court was presented to the judges of the ECtHR and a lot of attention was paid to the experience of consolidating the human rights protection instrument – an individual constitutional complaint – which had functioned in Lithuania for only two years; the rule on the exhaustion of domestic defence instruments was discussed in the context of both applications to the ECtHR and individual constitutional complaints.
During the meeting, discussions were held on relevant cases pending before both courts, in particular those relating to measures taken to manage the coronavirus pandemic, other relevant case law of the ECtHR, the prospects for giving advisory opinions under Protocol No 16 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter referred to as the Convention), as well as on the challenges faced by the ECtHR and the Constitutional Court in the handling of cases.
At the meeting, the role of the case law of the ECtHR in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, as well as further cooperation between the Constitutional Court and the ECtHR, was discussed. Over the last few years, the dialogue between the Constitutional Court and the ECtHR has become particularly evident, since not only the jurisprudence of the ECtHR as a source of the interpretation of law is important for the interpretation and application of Lithuanian law when deciding constitutional justice cases, but the ECtHR also relies on the national official constitutional doctrine developed by the constitutional courts.
The President of the Constitutional Court, Danutė Jočienė, pointed out that, according to the official constitutional doctrine, the Convention is considered to be a minimum standard for the protection of human rights, but broader protection of human rights can also be granted in accordance with the Constitution. In its cases, the Constitutional Court often relies on the jurisprudence of the ECtHR and formulates the provisions of the official constitutional doctrine by interpreting the Constitution, among other things, in a way that is friendly to the Convention.
The Vice-President of the ECtHR, Jon Fridrik Kjølbro, underlined the importance of cooperation between the ECtHR and the national courts, including the constitutional courts, and the fact that the more often the constitutional courts rely on the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Convention and its additional Protocols provided by the ECtHR, the more often the ECtHR takes into account the interpretation of national constitutional provisions that is friendly to the Convention.
The judges of the ECtHR, visiting Lithuania at the invitation of the National Courts Administration, will also give lectures to the participants of the seminar “Ensuring Human Rights”, which is taking place on 18–19 November 2021.