A case initiated with regard to the obligation to raise the flag on days of festivities and mourning
On 7 January 2015 the 2nd Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated a case “On the compliance of the first and the second part of Section 7 of Law on the National Flag of Latvia” and Section 20143 of Latvian Administrative Violations Code with Article 100 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia.”
The Contested Norms
The first and the second part of Section 7 of Law on the National Flag of Latvia provide:
“(1) The national flag of Latvia shall be placed on public buildings, buildings of legal persons governed by private law and associations of persons, as well as on residential buildings, on 1 May, 4 May, 21 August, 11 November and 18 November.
(2) The national flag of Latvia in mourning presentation shall be placed on public buildings, buildings of legal persons governed by private law and associations of persons, as well as on residential buildings, on 25 March, 14 June, 17 June, 4 July and on the first Sunday of December.”
Whereas Section 201.43 of the Latvian Administrative Violations Code provides:
“A warning shall be issued for failing to raise the national flag or other state flags on dates and occasions specified by the Saeima, the Cabinet of Ministers, councils of republican cities or regional councils, as well as in the case of violation of the method or procedures for raising the Latvian national flag.
A warning shall be issued or a monetary fine in an amount up to forty euros shall be imposed for the same actions if such are committed repeatedly within a year after an administrative sanction had been imposed.”
The Norm of Higher Legal Force
Article 100 of the Satversme 100: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to freely receive, keep and distribute information and to express his or her views. Censorship is prohibited.”
The case has been initiated with regard to the constitutional complaint submitted by Solvita Olsena. The submitter of the complaint notes that administrative liability had been imposed upon her for not raising the flag on the date specified in the law.
The submitter of the constitutional complaint holds that the contested norms violate her right to the freedom of speech. The freedom of speech comprises not only verbal means of expression, but also such forms of expression, which transmit information non-verbally. Allegedly, a private person uses the national flag when he or she wishes to express his or her views about the events in the state. The use of flag as a mandatory obligation allegedly does not ensure a person’s right to choose, whether to express his or her views, as well as the way and time for doing so.
The Constitutional Court has requested the Saeima to submit a written reply on the facts of the case and legal substantiation by 7 March 2015.
The term for preparing the case is 7 June 2015. The Court shall decide upon the procedure and the date for hearing the case after the case has been prepared.
Linked case: 2015-01-01