A case initiated with respect to the obligation of a Member of the Saeima to get vaccinated against Covid-19
On 7 June 2022, the 2nd Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated the case “On Compliance of Section 2 of the Law “On Temporary Additional Requirements for the Work of Members of the Saeima and Councillors of Local Government Councils” with Article 96 and the First Part of Article 101 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia”.
The Contested Norm
Pursuant to Section 2 of the law “On Temporary Additional Requirements for the Work of Members of the Saeima and Councillors of Local Government Councils” (hereafter – the contested norm), only such member of the Saeima was entitled to participate in the work of the Saeima from 15 November 2021 who, in accordance with the procedures laid down in this Law, had presented an interoperable COVID-19 certificate which certified the fact of vaccination or recovery, and also a member who had received an opinion of a specialist or a council of the clinical university hospital on the necessity to postpone vaccination for a definite period of time and had presented an interoperable certificate regarding a negative test result (hereinafter – the certificate). The contested norm was in force until 31 March 2022.
Norms of Higher Legal Force
Article 96 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia (hereafter – the Satversme): “Everyone has the right to inviolability of his or her private life, home and correspondence.”
The first part of Article 101 of the Satversme: “Every citizen of Latvia has the right, as provided for by law, to participate in the work of the State and of local government, and to hold a position in the civil service.”
The case was initiated on the basis of a constitutional complaint submitted by Member of the 13th convocation of the Saeima Jūlija Stepaņenko (hereafter – the applicant). The applicant had not presented by 15 November 2021 to the Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee of the Saeima the certificate referred to in the contested norm, therefore, pursuant to the contested norm, she had been denied participation in the work of the Saeima both on-site and remotely. More specifically – the possibility for her to discharge her duties as a Member of the Saeima had directly depended on the fact whether she had been vaccinated against the infectious disease Covid-19. Thus, the applicant’s right to the inviolability of private life, as well as the right to participate in the work of the State had been violated.
Although the restriction on fundamental rights, established in the contested norm, could be related to the protection of public health and safety, it is said to be disproportionate. This aim could be reached by more lenient measures, for example, by ensuring that all Members of the Saeima are regularly tested for Covid-19 if the Saeima works on-site or by allowing remote work of the Saeima. Moreover, the public benefit does not outweigh the damage caused to the applicant’s rights because, firstly, Covid-19 vaccines are said to have significant side-effects, and, secondly, allegedly, scientific evidence about the length of immunity caused by vaccines and their ability to curb the spread of Covid-19 is lacking.
The Constitutional Court has invited the institution, which issued the contested act, i.e., the Saeima, to submit to the Constitutional Court a written reply presenting the facts of the case and legal reasoning by 8 August 2022.
- The term for preparing the case is 7 November 2022.
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 is available here.
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Linked case: 2022-20-01