Harmony Center disputes new article criminalizing Nazi and Soviet apologism

Take note – story published 9 years ago

Parliamentary opposition party Harmony Center has prepared objections to the Constitutional Court calling for the annulment of Article 74.1 of the Criminal Code as both unconstitutional and in contradiction with the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. 

The latest amendment to the Criminal Code was approved into law by Saeima on May 15 and additionally provides for criminal responsibility for the „public glorification, denial, justification or gross derogation of aggressions committed against Latvia by the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany,” specifically.  Harmony Center deputies point out that this contradicts Article 1 of Latvia’s Constitution, which declares that Latvia is an independent, democratic republic. Despite Harmony Center's appeals that he refrain from doing so, President Berzins promulgated the law on May 21. The article provides that such crimes shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or short-term imprisonment or community service, or a fine.

Valerijs Agesins, one of twenty Saeima members submitting the claim to the Constitutional Court, concludes that “the new norm contains contradictory ideas and will make problematic any qualitative verdict based thereon.” He added that the legislature had failed to argue any grounds for passing such an article into law now that Latvia has enjoyed more than twenty years of restored independence.  “How exactly would such utterances be a threat to the state?”, he asked, adding that this limitation on freedom of speech fails to define what is to be understood by such terms as “gross derogation”.

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