A case has been initiated on the limitation period for revocation of Latvian citizenship in cases where false information has been provided in the process of acquiring citizenship
On 3 October 2022, the 1st Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated the case “On Compliance of Paragraph 7 of the Transitional Provisions of Citizenship Law with the First Sentence of Article 91 of the Satversme”.
The contested provision
Paragraph 7 of the Transitional Provisions of the Citizenship Law: “The time period of 10 years referred to in Section 24, Paragraph three of this Law shall start on 1 October 2013 for the persons who have acquired Latvian citizenship until 1 October 2013.”
Pursuant to the provisions of Section 24, Paragraph one, Clause 3 and Paragraph three of the Citizenship Law, Latvian citizenship may be revoked for a person, if he or she has intentionally provided false information or concealed the facts related thereto during the process of acquiring Latvian citizenship, and if no more than 10 years have elapsed since the acquisition thereof. However, the contested provision provides that for persons who have acquired Latvian citizenship before 1 October 2013, the 10-year period starts from that date.
Provision with a higher legal force
The first sentence of Article 91 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia (hereinafter – the Satversme) is the following: “All human beings in Latvia shall be equal before the law and the courts.”
The facts of the case
The case has been initiated on the basis of an application submitted by the Supreme Court Senate (hereinafter – the Applicant). The Applicant has an administrative case pending for examination in the cassation procedure, which was initiated on the basis of an application submitted by a natural person regarding the revocation of a decision of the Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs. By that decision, the applicant was deprived of Latvian citizenship which he had acquired before 1 October 2013. The decision was based on the fact that the applicant, when certifying his belonging to Latvian citizenship, intentionally provided false information or concealed facts relating to the conditions for acquiring Latvian citizenship. According to the contested provision, when deciding on depriving the applicant of citizenship, the Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs did not apply the 10-year term set out in Section 24, Paragraph three of the Citizenship Law.
According to the Applicant, the contested provision, without objective and reasonable grounds, places persons who have acquired Latvian citizenship before 1 October 2013 in a less favourable legal situation than persons who have acquired Latvian citizenship after that date. The limitation period is disproportionately longer for these persons. Therefore, the contested provision is said to be incompatible with the principle of equality enshrined in the first sentence of Article 91 of the Satversme.
The Constitutional Court has requested the institution which issued the contested act, i.e., the Saeima, to submit to the Constitutional Court its written reply presenting the facts of the case and legal reasoning by 5 December 2022.
- The term for preparing the case is 3 March 2023.
The Court shall decide on the procedure and date for hearing the case after the case is prepared.
- The decision on initiation of the case (in Latvian) is available here.
Press release in PDF is available here.
Linked case: 2022-36-01