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FOURTH SECTION

CASE OF MEIMANIS v. LATVIA


(Application no. 70597/11)

JUDGMENT

STRASBOURG
21 July 2015

This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44
2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

In the case of Meimanis v. Latvia,


The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a
Chamber composed of:
Guido Raimondi, President,
Pivi Hirvel,
George Nicolaou,
Ledi Bianku,
Nona Tsotsoria,
Faris Vehabovi, judges,
Ineta Ziemele, ad hoc judge,
and Fato Arac, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 30 June 2015,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:

PROCEDURE
1. The case originated in an application (no. 70597/11) against the
Republic of Latvia lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
(the Convention) by a Latvian national, Mr Mairis Meimanis (the
applicant), on 10 November 2011.
2. The applicant was represented by Mr S. Vrpi, a lawyer practising
in Riga. The Latvian Government (the Government) was represented by
their Agent Mrs K. Lce.
3. The applicant alleged, in particular, that on account of the interception
of his telephone conversations his Article 8 rights had been violated and that
there were no effective remedies in the Latvian legal system by which to
complain about such breaches. He also alleged that the proceedings before
the Constitutional Court had not been public and that he had been denied the
right to be heard.
4. On 7 December 2012 notice of the application was given to the
Government.

THE FACTS
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
5. The applicant was born in 1968 and lives in Riga.
6. He is currently on trial in criminal proceedings instituted on
30 December 2005 for an attempt to take a bribe, together with A.B.

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and A.S. At the time the applicant was the head of a division in the
Economic Crime Bureau (Ekonomikas policijas birojs) in the Main Police
Department in Riga (Rgas galven policijas prvalde).
7. According to the applicant, during his trial before the appellate court,
he learned that an operational investigation (operatvs uzskaites lieta) had
been opened in respect of his co-defendant A.S.
8. According to the Government, on 27 December 2005 the operational
investigation had been opened on the basis of information provided by a
private person. On 28 December 2005 the relevant authority, the Bureau for
the Prevention and Combating of Corruption (Korupcijas novranas un
apkaroanas birojs the KNAB), had informed the prosecutors office
about this. On the same date, a Supreme Court judge had authorised the
interception of A.S.s telephone conversations and the prosecutors office
had authorised an undercover operation (operatvais eksperiments). On
29 December 2005 the Head of the KNAB had authorised the interception
of A.B.s telephone conversations on the basis of section 7(5) of the Law on
Operational Activities, and they included conversations with the applicant.
On 30 December 2005 the KNAB had informed the prosecutors office
about the operational measures under the same provision. The Government
did not adduce any evidence in this connection.
A. Operational activities and the applicants complaints in that
regard
9. On 22 January 2009 a judge of the Criminal Cases Chamber of the
Supreme Court (Augstks tiesas Kriminllietu tiesu palta), in the context
of the criminal proceedings against the applicant, requested information
about the operational investigation.
10. On 18 February 2009 a specialised prosecutor, having examined the
material in accordance with section 35(1) of the Law on Operational
Activities, replied that the operational investigation had been opened on 27
December 2005. In respect of the applicant, no interception of telephone
conversations had been carried out in the context of that operational
investigation. However, she noted that his conversations were recorded if
he was speaking to [a person], whose conversations were intercepted in
accordance with the Law on Operational Activities. According to the
applicant, he learned about this information during the appellate court
hearing on 22 October 2009.
11. On 22 October 2009 the applicant requested the prosecution
authorities to review the lawfulness of the operational measures which had
been carried out and asked specific questions concerning these measures.
12. On 4 November 2009 the specialised prosecutor replied, among
other things, that on 28 December 2008 an undercover operation had been
approved on the basis of section 15(3) of the Law on Operational Activities

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in the context of the operational investigation to record the manner in which


the sworn attorney A.S. would proceed upon receipt of 19,500 Latvian lati
(LVL), to be handed over to the officials of the economic crime police, to
find out whether he would continue arranging for a bribe and to ascertain
his possible accomplices. She also noted that the domestic law did not
provide for independent judicial supervision of operational activities; such
supervision was carried out by the Prosecutor General and specially
authorised prosecutors in accordance with section 35(1) of the Law on
Operational Activities. Finally, she noted that the operational investigation
measures in respect of the applicant and his co-defendants had not been
illegal and that there had been no breaches of the general principles
governing operational activities contained in section 4 of that Law.
13. On 6 November 2009 the applicant lodged a complaint about the
specialised prosecutors reply.
14. On 27 November 2009 a higher-ranking specialised prosecutor
rejected the applicants complaint. She referred to section 35(1) and
section 5 of the Law on Operational Activities. By reference to section 7(5)
the prosecutor also explained that the authorities had learned during the
interception of telephone conversations of A.S. that an offence was being
planned for 30 December 2005 the act of arranging for and taking a bribe
which would also involve officials from the State Police. In order to
prevent further participation of officials in corruption-related offences, a
decision was taken to intercept the telephone conversations of A.B. on the
basis of section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities. The competence
of the prosecution authorities did not include examination of whether that or
other provisions were compatible with the Latvian Constitution; these issues
could be determined by the Constitutional Court.
15. The applicant lodged a further complaint with the Prosecutor
General, which was rejected by a final decision of 29 December 2009. With
reference to sections 35(1) and 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities, it
was reiterated that no breaches of that Law had been found.
B. The proceedings before the Constitutional Court
16. On 29 June 2010 the applicant lodged an individual constitutional
complaint with the Constitutional Court (Satversmes tiesa). He alleged that
(i) section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities was incompatible with
Articles 89 (protection of human rights) and 96 (right to private life) of the
Constitution (Satversme) and also with Articles 8 and 13 of the Convention,
and (ii) the first and second sentence of section 35(1) of the Law on
Operational Activities were incompatible with Article 89 and the first
sentence of Article 92 (right to a fair trial) of the Constitution and also with
Article 6 1 and Article 13 of the Convention.

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

17. On 16 July 2010 the Constitutional Court initiated proceedings in


case no. 2010-55-0106 with regard to the compatibility of section 7(5) of
the Law on Operational Activities with Article 96 of the Constitution and
Article 13 of the Convention and the compatibility of the first sentence of
section 35(1) of that Law with Article 92 of the Constitution alone. The
Constitutional Court rejected the remainder of the applicants complaint.
18. On 6 September 2010 a judge dismissed the applicants request,
among other things, to see the case materials, since it was contrary to the
procedure laid down in the Law on the Constitutional Court. It was for the
judge to take the necessary steps to prepare a case for adjudication (lietas
sagatavoana izskatanai) in accordance with section 22 of the Law on the
Constitutional Court. He also referred to section 22(9), section 24
and 22(2)(1) of the Law on the Constitutional Court (see paragraphs 34-35
below) to explain that the parties were entitled to see the case materials after
the decision concerning adjudication had been taken and that it was for the
judge to decide which institutions or officials were to be requested to submit
additional information or documents.
19. On 5 November 2010 the judge dismissed the applicants request to
see the written submissions filed by the Latvian Parliament (Saeima) in the
proceedings on the grounds that such request had already been dismissed
given that these submissions formed part of the case materials.
20. On 2 December 2010 the applicant requested permission to see at
least the judges preliminary opinion (atzinums par lietas sagatavoanu
izskatanai) before the preparation of the case was completed and before
the preparatory meeting had taken place. The applicant sought the
possibility of expressing his opinion on the proceedings and, in particular,
on whether or not the case could be decided by means of an oral procedure,
which was his preference.
21. On 17 December 2010 the President of the Constitutional Court
replied to the applicant that the parties could see the case materials only
after the decision concerning adjudication had been taken. That decision had
been taken on 14 December 2010. Consequently, the applicant could see the
case material. As regards the possibility of the proceedings being conducted
orally or in accordance with a written procedure, he explained that this issue
was to be determined by the Constitutional Court in accordance with section
22(8)-(10) of the Law on the Constitutional Court. This issue was first to be
considered by the relevant judge, then by the President of the Constitutional
Court and, subsequently, by all other judges in the preparatory meeting. The
parties could express their opinion on this matter after they had seen the
case materials.
22. On 21 January 2011 the applicant filed an opinion with the
Constitutional Court and noted, among other things, that the case could not
be decided through a written procedure and that an oral hearing should be
held. He admitted that the written procedure before the Constitutional Court

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

as such did not infringe his rights to be heard, but submitted that it had to be
examined in each particular case and that the court was not allowed to reject
a request in connection with the gathering of evidence without examining its
necessity, significance or procedural legal grounds.
23. On 25 January 2011, in a closed preparatory meeting, the
Constitutional Court examined the case materials and found that the
documents contained therein were sufficient for the purposes of examining
the case by means of a written procedure (sections 22(10) and 281 of the
Law on the Constitutional Court). On 26 January 2011 the applicant was
informed about this decision and was given 15 days to see the case materials
and to give his opinion in connection with them (section 281(2) of the Law
on the Constitutional Court). The applicant used this possibility.
24. On 11 May 2011 the Constitutional Court delivered its ruling in case
no. 2010-55-0106 and held that the contested legal provisions complied
with the Constitution and the Convention. The relevant part reads as
follows:
11. ...
It follows from the case materials that, on 27 December 2005, the KNAB opened an
operational investigation. Interception of the Applicants telephone conversations was
carried out from 29 to 31 December 2005, that is, for three days under section 7(5) of
the Law on Operational Activities (see Case materials, Vol. 1, pp. 85 86). There is
no dispute that the Applicant also participated in the telephone conversations which
were intercepted.
...
13. The Applicant and the Ombudsman argue that the restriction of rights
established in section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities is unclear. It is
impossible to understand the meaning of to prevent. Nor can it be understood what
preconditions need to be fulfilled in order to take operational measures under the
special procedure where immediate action is required. Therefore, the restriction of
rights established in the above-mentioned legal provision has not been provided for by
a properly adopted law (see Case materials, Vol. 1, pp. 7 8, and Vol. 3, pp. 46-48).
...
13.2. The Applicant argues that the provisions of section 7(5) of the Law on
Operational Activities must be applied only when necessary to prevent serious or
especially serious crimes. Consequently, the operational measures contained in this
provision cannot be performed for the purpose of detecting (atklt) a criminal offence.
...
The first sentence of section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities provides that
... operational activities may be carried out to react immediately to threats of criminal
offences as referred to in this provision and [that] corresponding operational measures
[may be taken] to prevent these offences. However, the fact that detection of criminal
offences has not been mentioned expressis verbis in section 7(5) of the Law on
Operational Activities, does not exclude the obligation to observe the purpose of
operational activities. [The Constitutional Court] can agree with the arguments of
Parliament and the KNAB, namely, that when carrying out activities mentioned in
section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities, a criminal offence can be prevented

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

and detected as well. When taking operational measures to prevent criminal offences,
some [other] criminal offence may also be detected. For instance, in the case of the
taking of a bribe, operational measures may prevent a criminal offence, as well as
identifying the persons involved in giving such a bribe. Therefore, it can be concluded
that the term to prevent in section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities includes
not only prevention of crime, but also detection of other criminal offences.
13.3. ...
[The Constitutional Court] does not agree with the opinion by the Ombudsman that
section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities is unclear as it fails to establish
preconditions which are necessary to allow immediate action to be taken in the form
of operational measures under the special procedure. Section 7(5) of the Law on
Operational Activities establishes two preconditions which allow ... operational
measures.
First, section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities enumerates specific
circumstances ... Operational measures may be taken when required to prevent acts of
terrorism, murder, banditry, riots, or other serious or especially serious offences. They
are permissible also in circumstances of a real threat to the life, health or property of
an individual. [The Constitutional Court considers that] this enumeration ... is
exhaustive and sufficiently precise. Consequently, it excludes any possibility of
operational measures under the special procedure in relation to the prevention of such
criminal offences which are not indicated in the legal provision.
Second, operational measures ... may be taken ... only when an immediate action is
required.
Interpreting this legal provision in conjunction with section 17(3) of the Law on
Operational Activities, [the Constitutional Court] concludes that covert interception of
non-public conversations is allowed only when [there is] reliable information
(pamatotas zias) about persons involvement in a criminal offence, as well as a threat
to important interests of the State, its security or defence. Consequently ... operational
measures ... may be taken if [there is] reliable information regarding the involvement
of an individual in a criminal offence.
Section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities provides for an exceptional
procedure, namely, it allows ... immediate operational measures to be taken because
any delay might significantly influence their results. Taking into account the
seriousness of the offences referred to in section 7(5) of the Law on Operational
Activities, it is important to provide a timely and effective response to prevent all
threats related to such crimes.
Section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities establishes the preconditions
for its application [with sufficient precision]; consequently, the restriction on the
fundamental rights has been established by law.
...
17. The Applicant indicates that section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities
does not provide an obligation ... to receive approval by a judge in cases where
operational measures are terminated within ... 72 hours (see Case materials, Vol. 1,
pp. 26 27).
17.1. Sections 7(2) and 7(3) of the Law on Operational Activities establish two
procedures for taking operational measures, namely, under the general and special
procedures. Such classification is closely related to the nature of operational measures
and their impact on the fundamental rights of persons. In the cases established in

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section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities, operational measures must be taken
under the special procedure as they significantly impinge on the fundamental rights of
persons.
The Constitutional Court considers that the grammatical wording of section 7(5) of
the Law on Operational Activities [does not clearly indicate] whether it is necessary to
obtain approval by the President of the Supreme Court or a specially authorised judge
in cases when operational measures are terminated within ... 72 hours.
17.2. In order to determine the content of section 7(5) of the Law on Operational
Activities, it must be interpreted in conjunction with other provisions of the same
section regulating operational measures to be taken under the special procedure.
Section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities contains a reference to
section 7(4) setting out the operational measures to be taken under the special
procedure. These measures, including monitoring of correspondence and covert
interception of non-public conversations, must be taken with the approval of the
President of the Supreme Court or a specially authorised judge.
Although section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities provides for exceptional
circumstances where ... immediate action may be taken, it also establishes the
obligation ... to obtain the approval of the President of the Supreme Court or a
specially authorised judge for operational measures under section 7(4). Already when
the draft of the Law on Operational Activities was being drawn up ... the need to
receive a judges approval was emphasised in cases where operational measures
would be taken under the special procedure (see Case materials, Vol. 1, pp. 171
and 173).
The third sentence of section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities indicated
that the operational measures had to be discontinued where no approval by a judge
was obtained. According to the KNAB, this indication confirms that a judges
approval must be sought only in cases where operational measures have not been
terminated within ... 72 hours (see Case materials, Vol. 3, pp. 45). However, the
Ministry of Justice and the Ombudsman indicate that such an interpretation ... would
not comply with the essence of the Constitution (see Case materials, Vol. 3, pp. 48
and 54 55).
Section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities contains no reference to the fact
that no approval by the President of the Supreme Court or a specially authorised judge
is necessary for operational measures to be taken under section 7(4) in the event that it
is planned to terminate them within ... 72 hours. Consequently, [the Constitutional
Court] cannot agree with the opinion by the KNAB that a judges approval does not
have to be obtained if operational measures are terminated within ... 72 hours.
...
17.3. ... Consequently, section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities provides
that a prosecutor must always be informed of the operational measures taken; this
provision also obliges ... [the seeking of] approval by the President of the Supreme
Court or a specially authorised judge.
The restriction established in section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities
must be regarded as the most lenient measure for fulfilling the legitimate aim
because monitoring by a prosecutor and subsequent judicial scrutiny of the
lawfulness of operational measures ensures effective protection of the rights of
persons.
18. ...

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It is not possible to agree with the Applicants statement to the effect that the
infringement of his right is greater than the benefit gained by society. By means of a
lawful restriction of a persons right to respect for his or her private life, the State
helps to combat crime and permits ... immediate reaction to threats of criminal
offences that are particularly dangerous for society, serving to prevent them and
identifying the persons involved. When intercepting non-public conversations in the
cases established in section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities, the protection
of public safety is ensured.
Consequently, operational measures taken to prevent criminal offences
referred to in section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities must be regarded
as proportionate and compliant with Article 96 of the Constitution only if
approval by the President of the Supreme Court or a specially authorised judge
has been obtained irrespective of the time when the operational measures are
terminated.
19. The Applicant indicates that the [prosecutors office] cannot be regarded as an
effective remedy in respect of his rights within the meaning of Articles 8 and 13 of the
Convention (see Case materials, Vol. 1, pp. 17 18).
The Constitutional Court has already established in its case-law that [an application
to] the prosecutors office in Latvia may be regarded as an effective and available
remedy, because the status and the role of the prosecutor in the supervision of law
secures independent and impartial review of cases in compliance with Article 13 of
the Convention (see Judgment of 11 October 2004 by the Constitutional Court in the
case No. 2004-06-01. Para 19).
In the present case it is necessary to examine whether section 7(5) of the Law on
Operational Activities provides a person with protection compliant with Article 13 of
the Convention in cases where the right to the inviolability of private life and
correspondence guaranteed in the Convention is infringed.
The Constitutional Court concludes that section 7(5) of the Law on Operational
Activities establishes circumstances ... where operational measures may be taken
immediately, as well as the procedure in accordance with which this has to be notified
to a prosecutor and approval by a judge is to be obtained. However, this provision is
not related to the right to an effective remedy under Article 13 of the Convention.
Consequently, the compliance of section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities
with Article 13 of the Convention must be assessed in conjunction with the first
sentence of section 35(1) of that Law, the latter establishing a mechanism for
monitoring operational measures and being contested by the Applicant as to its
compliance with Article 92 of the Constitution.
20. The Applicant indicates that the first sentence of section 35(1) of the Law on
Operational Activities fails to comply with Article 92 of the Constitution because it
has no legitimate aim and it is not necessary in a democratic society. The provision
fails to establish a procedure according to which the supervision and monitoring of
performance of operational measures would be carried out. In the monitoring of
operational measures, the first sentence of section 35(1) of the Law on Operational
Activities confers on the prosecutors office a broad margin of appreciation (see Case
materials, Vol. 1, pp. 20 21).
21.1. ...
The Constitutional Court has already concluded in paragraph 17 above that [there is]
an obligation to request, in any event, the approval of the President of the Supreme
Court or a specially authorised judge in relation to operational measures.

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Consequently, the legislature has established such a regulatory framework for


operational measures that requires not only monitoring by a prosecutor but also
judicial supervision or at least subsequent judicial scrutiny of the lawfulness of the
measures taken and their compliance with the requirements of the law.
20.2. ...
The Constitutional Court has already indicated in its case-law that the prosecutors
office, as a judicial institution, has a twofold nature. On the one hand it is a single,
centralised three-level institutional system, under the management of the Prosecutor
General, but on the other prosecutorial functions are carried out independently and
solely by officials of the prosecutors office, that is, the individual prosecutors (see
Judgment of 20 December 2006 by the Constitutional Court in the case No. 2006-1201, Para 12.2).
... As to the taking of operational measures referred to in section 7(4) of the Law on
Operational Activities, in cases established in section 7(5), ... a prosecutor, that is, the
Prosecutor General or specialised prosecutors, must be notified within ... 24 hours (see
Kavalieris A. Operatvs darbbas likuma komentri. Rga: Raka, 2002, pp. 26).
Consequently, the Prosecutor General or specialised prosecutors also supervise the
lawfulness of operational measures.
Pursuant to section 22(2) of the Law on Operational Activities, operational
proceedings (operatv izstrde) are opened by a decision approved by a head or
deputy head of the operational activities authority and a prosecutor is informed about
this. Consequently, operational measures established in section 7(5) of the Law on
Operational Activities ... must be notified to the Prosecutor General or a specialised
prosecutor. The Constitutional Court indicates that in the event of receipt of such
notice, the public prosecutor must monitor the compliance of the investigative
operational measures with the requirements of the law, thus ensuring the observance
of the rights of the person concerned.
20.3. The Applicant indicates that the possibility of securing protection for ones
rights is limited in cases where ones telephone calls are intercepted (see Case
materials, Vol. 1, pp. 10, 13, 18 and 22).
...
It follows from the afore-mentioned that the Prosecutor General and specialised
prosecutors review operational activities and, based on the results of such review,
provide an opinion on the lawfulness of operational activities ... Review is necessary
for the Prosecutor General and specialised prosecutors to ensure that operational
measures have been lawful. However, the effective regulatory framework also
establishes judicial supervision, including subsequent scrutiny. Consequently, [the
Constitutional Court does not] agree with the opinion that the effective regulatory
framework fails to provide independent subsequent scrutiny in respect of operational
measures.
Pursuant to section 29(3) of the Law on Operational Activities, if in the course of
operational activities the rights and interests of persons have been unlawfully
infringed and damage has been caused, the obligation of the relevant officials
(prosecutor or court) shall be to restore such rights and to compensate for or avert the
inflicted pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage in accordance with the law.
Consequently, it can be concluded that the Law on Operational Activities establishes
the responsibility of the officials of [the relevant body] in the case of any infringement
of fundamental rights.

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MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

...
Consequently, the investigating authority and the court ensure the review of
the admissibility of information obtained by means of operational measures.
However, the Prosecutor General and specialised prosecutors, by monitoring the
conformity of operational activities with the law, as well as the court in carrying
out subsequent scrutiny, ensure effective protection of a persons rights.
...

II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE


A. The Constitution (Satversme)
25. The relevant Articles of the Constitution provide:
Article 85
In Latvia, there shall be a Constitutional Court [Satversmes tiesa], which, within
the limits of its jurisdiction as provided for by law, shall review cases concerning the
compliance of laws with the Constitution, as well as other matters regarding which
jurisdiction is conferred upon it by law. The Constitutional Court shall have the right
to declare laws or other enactments or parts thereof invalid ...
Article 89
The State shall recognise and protect fundamental human rights in accordance with
this Constitution, laws and international agreements binding upon Latvia.
Article 92
Everyone has the right to defend his or her rights and lawful interests in a fair
court. Everyone shall be presumed innocent until his or her guilt has been established
in accordance with the law. Everyone whose rights are violated without justification
has the right to commensurate compensation. Everyone has the right to the assistance
of counsel.
Article 96
Everyone has the right to inviolability of his or her private life, home and
correspondence.
Article 116
The rights of persons set out in Articles 96 ... of the Constitution may be subject to
restrictions in circumstances provided for by law in order to protect the rights of
others, the democratic structure of the State, public safety, welfare and morals ...

B. The Law on Operational Activities (as in force at the material


time, with amendments effective until 31 December 2009)
26. The term operational activities covers all operations, covert or
otherwise, of specially authorised State institutions that are aimed at

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11

protecting individuals, the independence and sovereignty of the State, the


constitutional system, the countrys economic and scientific potential, and
classified information, from external or internal threats (section 1).
Operational activities are aimed, inter alia, at preventing and detecting
criminal offences, tracing the perpetrators of criminal offences, and finding
sources of evidence (section 2).
27. As to when the Law on Operational Activities is to be applied,
section 4(4) contains an explanation to the effect that operational activities
are to be undertaken only when the goals and tasks set out in sections 1
and 2 could not be achieved or fulfilled in any other way, or if the said
achievement of goals and fulfilment of tasks would otherwise be
significantly hampered.
28. Section 5 provides:
Article 5 - Protection of Rights and Freedoms of Individuals
If an individual believes that a body carrying out operational activities (operatvs
darbbas subjekts) has infringed his lawful rights and freedoms, he or she is entitled to
lodge a complaint with the prosecutor, who shall conduct an examination and issue a
conclusion (atzinums) concerning the lawfulness of the contested actions of the
official of the body carrying out operational activities (operatvs darbbas subjekta
amatpersona), or the individual may bring an action before the court.

29. Section 7(5) provides:


When an immediate action is required to prevent acts of terrorism, murder,
banditry, rioting or any other serious or especially serious crimes, as well as in the
circumstances of a real threat to the life, health or property of an individual, the
operational measures provided in paragraph 4 of the present section [monitoring of
correspondence, obtaining information from technical devices, covert interception of
non-public conversations (including telephone conversations and communication
using electronic and other means) and entering premises] may be taken without
approval (akcepts) by a judge. The prosecutor shall be informed within 24 hours and
the judges approval shall be obtained within 72 hours. Otherwise, the operational
measures shall be discontinued.

30. Section 35 provides:


(1) The Prosecutor General and prosecutors specially authorised by him shall be
responsible for monitoring (uzraudzba) the conformity of operational activities with
the law. For the purposes of monitoring they shall be entitled to consult such
documents, materials and information, at any stage of the operational activities, as are
available to the investigating body (operatvs darbbas iestde). Secret information
and its sources shall be revealed only to the Prosecutor General, or to the prosecutors
specially authorised by him with the permission of the head of the investigating body.
(2) In order to take a decision with respect to operational measures which require
approval by a judge, the judge shall be entitled to consult those documents, materials
and information available to the investigating body on which the necessity for the
operational measure, according to the special method, is based. Secret information and
its sources shall be revealed to the judge only with the permission of the head of the
investigating body.

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C. The Law on the Constitutional Court


31. Section 16 of the Law on the Constitutional Court provides that that
court is competent to examine only the following matters:
(i) compliance of laws with the Constitution;
(ii) compliance with the Constitution of international agreements signed or entered
into by Latvia (even before [parliament] has confirmed the agreement);
(iii) compliance of other legal instruments or parts thereof with the legal norms
(instruments) of superior legal force;
(iv) compliance of other instruments (with the exception of administrative acts) by
[parliament], the Cabinet of Ministers, the President, the Speaker of [parliament] and
Prime Minister with the law;
(v) compliance of Regulations, by which a Minister, authorised by the Cabinet of
Ministers, has suspended binding regulations issued by a Local Government Council,
with the law;
(vi) compliance of the national legal norms of Latvia with the international
agreements entered into by Latvia, which are not incompatible with the Constitution.

32. Section 17 of the Law on the Constitutional Court provides that any
person who considers that his or her fundamental rights have been breached
has the right to submit an application to the Constitutional Court.
33. Section 192 of the Law on the Constitutional Court provides:
(1) Any person who considers that a legal provision, which is not in compliance
with a provision having superior legal force, has infringed his or her fundamental
rights under the Constitution may lodge a constitutional complaint (an application)
with the Constitutional Court.
(2) A constitutional complaint (an application) may be lodged only after exhaustion
of all the possibilities for securing protection of such rights through ordinary legal
remedies (appeal to a higher authority, appeal or application to a court of general
jurisdiction, etc.) or where no such remedies exist.
(3) Where examination of a constitutional complaint (an application) is in the public
interest or where legal protection of the rights in question via ordinary remedies does
not enable the appellant to avoid substantial damage, the Constitutional Court may
decide to examine the application even before all other domestic remedies have been
exhausted.
(4) A constitutional complaint (an application) may be lodged within six months of
the date on which the decision of the highest instance becomes final.
(5) The submission of a constitutional complaint (an application) shall not suspend
the execution of a judicial decision, except in cases where the Constitutional Court
decides otherwise.
(6) In addition to its substance, as required by section 18(1) of the present Law, a
constitutional complaint (an application) must contain submissions concerning:
(i) the violation of the appellants fundamental human rights as provided in the
Constitution, and;
(ii) the exhaustion of all ordinary remedies or the fact that no such remedies exist.

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

13

(7) The following information must be appended to a constitutional complaint (an


application):
(i) the explanations and documentation required to establish the facts of the case;
(ii) documents certifying that, where they exist, all ordinary remedies have been
exhausted.

34. Section 22(1) provides that the President of the Constitutional Court
assigns a case to one of the judges for preparation. It is for the judge to
decide which institutions or officials are to be requested to submit additional
information or documents and to determine any third parties (pieaicints
persons) who will be requested to submit their opinions (section 22(2)-(3)).
Any person may be recognised by a judge as a third party, if that persons
opinion would facilitate comprehensive and objective adjudication
(section 22(3)). A judge completes his or her preparation of the case by
issuing a preliminary opinion (atzinums par lietas sagatavoanu
izskatanai), and if he or she considers that the proceedings could be
conducted in accordance with a written procedure, he or she includes a
proposal to that effect in the preliminary opinion (section 22(8)). The
preparation of the case is completed when the President of the
Constitutional Court issues a decision concerning adjudication (lmums par
lietas nodoanu izskatanai), determining the composition of the bench and
scheduling the time and place for a preparatory meeting (rcbas sde)
(section 22(9)). One of the matters to be decided in the preparatory meeting
is whether or not to conduct proceedings in accordance with a written
procedure (section 22(10)(1)). Lastly, if the written procedure is to be
followed, the parties are to be informed about this decision (section 22(13)).
35. Section 24 of the Law on the Constitutional Court provides:
After a decision concerning adjudication (lmums par lietas nodoanu izskatanai)
has been taken, the parties to the case the applicant and the institution or authority
which has issued the impugned provision may acquaint themselves with the case
materials.

36. Section 281 (with amendments effective until 30 June 2011) of the
Law on the Constitutional Court provides:
Section 281 - Written Procedure
(1) In circumstances where the case materials are sufficient for adjudication of the
case by a written procedure, a hearing with the participation of the parties need not be
held. Adjudication of a case by a written procedure shall be determined in accordance
with section 22(10) of the present Law.
(2) Within fifteen days of receipt of a notification regarding a matter being
adjudicated by a written procedure, the parties shall have the right to acquaint
themselves with the case materials and express their opinion regarding them in
writing.
(3) The case shall be adjudicated by the written procedure and the judgment shall be
made in the deliberation room.

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MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

37. Section 32 of the Law on the Constitutional Court provides:


(1) The judgment of the Constitutional Court shall be final. It shall take legal
effect at the time of delivery.
(2) The judgment of the Constitutional Court shall be binding on all State and
municipal institutions and authorities, including the courts, and also on natural
persons and legal entities.
(3) Any legal provision or act which the Constitutional Court has found
incompatible with the legal provision having superior legal force shall be considered
invalid from the date of publication of the Constitutional Courts judgment, unless the
Constitutional Court rules otherwise.
(4) If the Constitutional Court has declared any international agreement signed or
entered into by Latvia as incompatible with the Constitution, the Cabinet of Ministers
shall ensure that amendments to the agreement are made without delay, or otherwise
decide upon the denunciation of the agreement, the suspension of its operation or the
revocation of accession.

38. Section 32(2) of the Law on the Constitutional Court was amended
to provide that the interpretation of a legal provision provided by the
Constitutional Court would also be binding. The amendment was effective
from 1 January 2010.

THE LAW
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 OF THE CONVENTION
39. The applicant complained that the proceedings before the
Constitutional Court had not been public and that he had been denied a right
to be heard as provided for in Article 6 1 of the Convention, which in its
relevant part reads as follows:
In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ... everyone is entitled to a
fair and public hearing ... by [a] ... tribunal ...

A. Applicability of Article 6 1
40. The Government contested the applicability of Article 6 1 to the
proceedings in question, arguing that there was no criminal charge, civil
right or dispute in the present case.
41. The applicant did not provide any comment in this connection.
42. The Court reiterates that proceedings come within the scope of
Article 6 1, even if they are conducted before a Constitutional Court,
where their outcome is decisive for civil rights and obligations (see
Smann v. Germany, 16 September 1996, 41, Reports of Judgments and
Decisions 1996-IV).

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

15

43. More generally, for Article 6 1 in its civil limb to be applicable,


there must be a dispute (contestation in the French text) over a right
which can be said, at least on arguable grounds, to be recognised under
domestic law, irrespective of whether it is protected under the Convention.
The dispute must be genuine and serious; it may relate not only to the actual
existence of a right but also to its scope and the manner of its exercise; and,
finally, the result of the proceedings must be directly decisive for the right
in question, mere tenuous connections or remote consequences not being
sufficient to bring Article 6 1 into play (see Boulois v. Luxembourg [GC],
no. 37575/04, 90, ECHR 2012)
44. The Court nevertheless considers that it is unnecessary to reach a
conclusion as to whether Article 6 1 applied to the constitutional
proceedings in the present case for the reasons outlined below.
B. Compliance with Article 6 1
1. Parties submissions
45. In his application to the Court the applicant submitted that he had not
been given the possibility of personally explaining his case, which
involved questions of both fact and law, before the Constitutional Court. He
considered that there had been no legal grounds for refusing to hold a public
hearing in his case. Article 6, as a whole, provided for the right to be heard.
In his case, the written procedure before the Constitutional Court had
significantly interfered with his fair trial rights. He had not been able to see
the case materials before the decision concerning adjudication was taken,
but he admitted that afterwards he had been entitled to see them and express
his opinion prior to the preparatory hearing, which took place on 25 January
2011. At the preliminary stage of the proceedings, he had not been able to
find out which institutions or officials had been requested to submit
information, documents or opinions. The applicant believed that such legal
regulation allowed unfettered discretion for the relevant judge to gather
evidence according to his or her own subjective views. He could not fully
participate in the gathering of evidence, that is, by choosing third parties to
the case and asking them questions. He admitted that the written procedure
before the Constitutional Court as such did not infringe his right to be heard,
but submitted that this had to be examined in each particular case and that
the court was not allowed to reject a request in connection with the
gathering of evidence without examining its necessity, significance or
procedural legal grounds.
46. The Government pointed out that, according to the Courts case-law,
the obligation to hold a (public) hearing was not absolute. They argued that
the absence of a hearing before the Constitutional Court in proceedings
following an individual constitutional complaint was justified by that

16

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

courts special role and the specific nature of the proceedings before it,
which involved exclusively legal issues and not the establishment of facts
(they referred to Jurii v. Croatia, no. 58222/09, 90, 26 July 2011). The
Government submitted that in proceedings involving only questions of law,
as opposed to questions of fact, a hearing was not required, provided that
one had been held before a lower court (they referred to Hermi v. Italy
[GC], no. 18114/02, 60-61, ECHR 2006-XII). As regards the
constitutional courts in particular, a hearing was not normally required as
their competence was limited to an examination of constitutional issues and
entailed an assessment of points of law and not facts (they referred to Zippel
v. Germany (dec.), no. 30470/96, 23 October 1997; Weh and Weh v. Austria
(dec.), no. no. 38544/97, 4 July 2002; and Prischl v. Austria, no. 2881/04,
20-22, 26 April 2007).
47. There was only one exception where a hearing would be required
before a constitutional court where the latter was the only body which
could determine the dispute between an applicant and the national
authorities (Kugler v. Austria, no. 65631/01, 50, 14 October 2010). The
Government argued that this exception was not applicable in the present
case. The lawfulness of the interception had already been examined by the
prosecutors office, which in their submission was an institution exercising
a judicial function, and the admissibility of evidence obtained as a result
would be examined in the criminal proceedings, where hearings were held
at first and second instance. The Constitutional Court could address only the
specific question of the compliance of the impugned legal provisions with
the Constitution. Lastly, there was no information as to why his complaint
could not be decided on the basis of the case file alone (they referred to
section 281 of the Law on the Constitutional Court).
2. The Courts assessment
48. The Court recognises not only the special role and status of
constitutional courts, but also the special nature of constitutional appeals,
which, in those States that have made provision for a right of individual
petition, afford additional legal protection to citizens at national level in
respect of their fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution (see
Smann, cited above, 37, and Hesse-Anger and Anger v. Germany (dec.),
no. 45835/99, ECHR 2001-VI (extracts)). Proceedings before a
Constitutional Court have their own characteristics, which take account of
the specific nature of the legal rules to be applied and the implications of the
constitutional decision for the legal system in force. They are also intended
to enable a single body to adjudicate on a large number of cases relating to
very different subjects (see Ruiz-Mateos v. Spain, 23 June 1993, 63,
Series A no. 262). The constitutional proceedings may be limited to the
examination of questions of constitutionality, which do not necessarily

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

17

involve a direct and full determination of civil rights (see Malhous


v. the Czech Republic [GC], no. 33071/96, 62, 12 July 2001).
49. The Court observes that the Constitutional Court in Latvia examines,
inter alia, individual complaints challenging the constitutionality of a legal
provision or its compliance with a provision that has superior legal force
(see, for a recent authority, Larionovs and Tess v. Latvia (dec.),
nos. 45520/04 and 19363/05, 141-142, 25 November 2014). While the
public character of court hearings constitutes a fundamental principle,
Article 6 1 of the Convention does not guarantee an absolute right to a
public hearing, irrespective of the nature of the issues to be determined (see
Hesse-Anger and Anger, cited above). A hearing may not be necessary, for
example, when it raises no questions of fact or law which cannot be
adequately resolved on the basis of the case file and the parties written
observations (see, among many other authorities, Keskinen and Veljekset
Keskinen Oy v. Finland, no. 34721/09, 33, 5 June 2012).
50. The Court notes that the applicant himself admitted that the written
procedure before the Constitutional Court as such did not infringe his right
to be heard. It appears from his submissions before the Court that he merely
wished to be able to express his opinion at an earlier stage of the
proceedings than was provided for by law. The Court notes that the judge
replied to the applicants request explaining the relevant procedure and
stages in the proceedings before the Constitutional Court, with reference to
the relevant domestic law provisions. In particular, the judge clarified that
the applicant could see the case material at a later stage, that is, after the
decision concerning adjudication had been taken (see paragraph 18 above).
Subsequently, the applicant was able to submit his comments in connection
with the case material, including the written submissions filed by Parliament
and by all third parties (contrast with Ruiz-Mateos, cited above, 65-68).
51. As to the applicants allegation that the relevant judge could gather
evidence, the Court notes that in the constitutional proceedings under
Latvian law the judge to whom the case has been assigned gathers the
necessary evidence and information in order to prepare the case for
adjudication (see paragraph 34 above). In the present case, the applicant
admitted that he could, and indeed did, see the case material and had the
opportunity to express his views, including on the possibility of holding an
oral hearing in the case before the preparatory meeting (see paragraphs 2122 and 45 above). Moreover, the applicant was also afforded the possibility
of providing comment on the case material after the preparatory meeting
had taken place (see paragraph 23 above and contrast with Jurii, cited
above, 75-78).
52. The Court will now examine the applicants argument concerning
the lack of a public hearing before the Constitutional Court. In the present
case the Constitutional Court was the only judicial body competent to deal
with the applicants complaint (see, mutatis mutandis, Hesse-Anger and

18

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

Anger, cited above). It is true that, where proceedings are conducted at only
one level of jurisdiction, the right to a public hearing within the meaning
of Article 6 1 of the Convention may entail an entitlement to an oral
hearing (see Fredin v. Sweden (no. 2), 23 February 1994, 21, Series A
no. 283-A). The Court notes, however, that the review undertaken in the
present case related to constitutionality of legal provisions and not to factual
issues, as argued by the applicant.
53. In the present case the Constitutional Court decided that the case
material was sufficient for the case to be examined using a written
procedure (see paragraph 23 above) in accordance with the domestic law.
The applicant did not complain that this decision was arbitrary, he merely
wished to personally explain his case before the Constitutional Court
without providing more substance to this argument. The only argument the
applicant advanced in this connection was that there had been no legal
grounds for such decision to be taken. The Government relied on section
281 of the Law on the Constitutional Court and the applicant did not dispute
this.
54. The foregoing considerations are sufficient to enable the Court to
conclude that it was not necessary to hold a public hearing before the
Constitutional Court in the present case. Even assuming that Article 6 1
applies to the constitutional proceedings, it follows that this complaint is
manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35
3 (a) and 4 of the Convention.
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 8 OF THE CONVENTION
55. The applicant complained that on account of the interception of his
telephone conversations his right to respect for his private life and for his
correspondence had been violated. The relevant part of Article 8 of the
Convention provides as follows:
1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private ...life ... and his correspondence.
2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right
except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society
in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the
country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals,
or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

56. The Government contested that argument.


A. Admissibility
57. The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill-founded
within the meaning of Article 35 3 (a) of the Convention. No other ground

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

19

for declaring it inadmissible has been established. It must therefore be


declared admissible.
B. Merits
1. Parties submissions
58. The applicant maintained that there had been an interference with his
right to respect for his private life and his correspondence. He did not deny
that there had been a statutory basis for the interference under section 7(5)
of the Law on Operational Activities. He complained about the quality of
the law and argued that it had left too much discretion for domestic
authorities to choose how to apply it and that arbitrariness in its application
could not be excluded. Under section 7(5) the prosecutor could merely
approve the interference without examining the facts of each case. In effect,
that provision allowed operational measures to be taken without prior
judicial authorisation, only requiring that the prosecutors office be
informed within 24 hours. In the applicants case, the authorisation was not
sought from the judge within 72 hours, in breach of domestic law. As to the
question of a legitimate aim, the applicant pointed out that the criminal
proceedings had been instituted only on 30 December 2005; thus, the
telephone interception could not have been carried out in connection with
those proceedings. In his submission, the telephone interception under the
Law on Operational Activities had been carried out in order to circumvent
the regular procedure (under the Criminal Procedure Law) of obtaining prior
authorisation by a judge.
59. The Government did not deny that there had been an interference
with the applicants right to respect for his private life and correspondence.
They believed, however, that the interference at issue was prescribed by
law, pursued a legitimate aim and was necessary in a democratic society.
The interference had resulted from the interception of A.B.s telephone
conversations, which had been authorised under section 7(5) of the Law on
Operational Activities. In the Governments view this was sufficient to
conclude that the criterion of lawfulness was met in the present case.
Moreover, the lawfulness of the interception had subsequently been
confirmed on several occasions by the prosecutors office in response to the
applicants complaints (paragraphs 11-15 above). They claimed that it had
also been verified by the relevant judge of the Criminal Cases Chamber of
the Supreme Court (in the context of the criminal proceedings). Lastly, they
referred to the findings of the Constitutional Court confirming that the said
provision had been sufficiently clear and precise as to exclude arbitrariness.
Namely, the said provision contained an exhaustive list of offences and the
necessary precondition for its application was a situation requiring
immediate action. Furthermore, the Government submitted that the

20

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

interference at issue had pursued the legitimate aim of preventing crime,


given that it had been carried out in the framework of criminal proceedings
in connection with aggravated bribery. In response to the applicants
argument, they further reiterated that owing to the rapid development of
events from 27 to 30 December 2005 no measures other than the operational
interception of telecommunications would have been efficient for gathering
credible information about the details of and accomplices involved in the
bribery scheme.
2. The Courts assessment
60. At the outset the Court notes that it is common ground between the
parties that the interception of the applicants telephone conversations
constituted an interference with his right to respect for his private life and
correspondence and that this interference was attributable to the State. The
Court sees no reason to hold otherwise (see, for example, Weber and
Saravia v. Germany (dec.), no. 54934/00, 77, ECHR 2006-XI and the
cases cited therein).
61. It is therefore necessary to examine whether this interference was
justified under the terms of paragraph 2 of that Article: whether it was in
accordance with the law and necessary in a democratic society for one of
the purposes enumerated in that paragraph.
62. The Court observes that the expression in accordance with the law
not only requires compliance with domestic law but also relates to the
quality of that law, requiring it to be compatible with the rule of law. In the
context of covert surveillance by public authorities, domestic law must
provide protection against arbitrary interference with an individuals right
under Article 8. Moreover, the law must be sufficiently clear in its terms to
give individuals an adequate indication of the circumstances and conditions
in which public authorities are entitled to resort to such covert measures (see
Khan v. the United Kingdom, no. 35394/97, 26, ECHR 2000-V).
63. The Court observes that the applicants arguments relating to the
text, scope and clarity of section 7(5) of the Law on Operational Activities
were examined in detail by the Latvian Constitutional Court; it is not the
Courts task to re-examine those arguments. The Court observes that under
that provision the prosecutor [must] be informed within 24 hours and the
judges approval [must] be obtained within 72 hours; otherwise, the
operational measures [must] be discontinued. The Constitutional Court
examined this provision in connection with other relevant domestic-law
provisions (see the Constitutional Courts analysis in paragraphs 13 and 17
of its judgment, paragraph 24 above) and concluded that a prosecutor must
always be informed and that approval by the President of the Supreme
Court or a specially authorised judge must always be sought, also in the
circumstances where the operational measures had been terminated in less
than 72 hours (see paragraph 17.3 of its judgment, paragraph 24 above).

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

21

64. In the present case, the applicant submitted and the Government did
not deny that the relevant authority the KNAB never sought an ex post
facto approval by the President of the Supreme Court or a specially
authorised judge. Indeed, as can be seen from the submissions by the
KNAB before the Constitutional Court, it had been the authoritys opinion
that ex post facto approval was not required in all cases namely, that it was
not required if the operational measures were terminated in less than
72 hours. This argument was expressly dismissed by the Constitutional
Court (see paragraph 17.2 in fine of its judgment, paragraph 24 above). The
Court finds that, in accordance with the relevant Latvian law, as interpreted
by the Constitutional Court, the ex post facto approval by the President of
the Supreme Court, or a specially authorised judge, of the operational
measures was required in the circumstances of the present case,
notwithstanding that the interception of the telephone conversations was
terminated in less than 72 hours. This conclusion is not altered by the fact
that the lawfulness of these measures was confirmed by various prosecutors.
Their conclusions were limited to section 35(1) of the Law on Operational
Activities (see paragraphs 12 and 15 above) and, in any event, their review
was carried out before the Constitutional Court adopted its judgment in the
present case providing for an authoritative interpretation of section 7(5) of
that Law. The Court would add that the domestic authorities are bound by
the interpretation given by the Constitutional Court in accordance with
section 32 of the Law on the Constitutional Court (see paragraphs 37 and 38
above).
65. Having found that the ex post facto approval by the President of the
Supreme Court or a specially authorised judge, as required by section 7(5)
of the Law on Operational Activities following the interpretation of the
Constitutional Court, was never sought in the applicants case, the Court
does not consider it necessary to examine whether other conditions set out
in the domestic law for the application of the operational measures were met
in the present case.
66. The foregoing considerations are sufficient for the Court to conclude
that the interception of the applicants telephone conversations was not in
accordance with the law within the meaning of Article 8 2 of the
Convention. Consequently, there has been a violation of Article 8. Having
regard to this conclusion, the Court does not consider it necessary to review
compliance with the other requirements of Article 8 2 in this case (see
Petrova v. Latvia, no. 4605/05, 98, 24 June 2014).
III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 13 OF THE CONVENTION
67. The applicant further complained that there were no effective
remedies in the Latvian legal system in respect of breaches of Article 8
rights. He complained about the fact that the review of operational activities

22

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

in Latvia was entrusted to prosecutors and not subject to independent


judicial scrutiny.
68. Article 13 of the Convention provides as follows:
Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated
shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the
violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.

69. The Government contested that argument.


A. Admissibility
70. Having regard to its findings under Article 8 of the Convention, the
Court considers that the applicants complaint raised an arguable claim
under the Convention and that, accordingly, he was entitled to an effective
remedy in order to enforce his rights under that Article (see Association for
European Integration and Human Rights and Ekimdzhiev v. Bulgaria,
no. 62540/00, 98, 28 June 2007).
71. The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill-founded
within the meaning of Article 35 3 (a) of the Convention. No other ground
for declaring it inadmissible has been established. It must therefore be
declared admissible.
B. Merits
1. Parties submissions
72. The applicant maintained that an application to the prosecutors
office could not be considered an effective means by which to ensure
protection of his rights. He submitted that the role of the prosecutors office
was, on the one hand, to review and approve operational activities under the
Law on Operational Activities and, on the other, to prosecute individuals
and bring them to trial on behalf of the State. He thus disagreed with the
Government that the prosecutors office could be considered a judicial
institution in Latvia.
73. The Government noted that the applicant had asked the prosecutors
office to provide information about the operational measures, their
lawfulness and the subsequent actions by the KNAB. In their submission,
the prosecutors office was an institution exercising judicial functions (they
referred to section 1(1) of the Law on the Prosecutors Office and the
Constitutional Courts ruling in case no. 2004-06-01, referred to by the
Constitutional Court in paragraph 19 of its judgment in the present case, see
paragraph 24 above). The prosecutors office had examined every facet of
the applicants complaint. As regards the proceedings before the
Constitutional Court, the Government emphasised that pursuant to
section 655(2)(4) of the Criminal Procedure Law its judgment would serve

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

23

as a sufficient basis for the re-opening of terminated proceedings. However,


given that the criminal proceedings in the applicants case were still
pending, they referred to section 2(2) of the Criminal Procedure Law, which
provided that the interpretation of a legal provision by the Constitutional
Court was binding on domestic criminal courts in terms of its assessment of
the lawfulness of the operative measures against the applicant and the coaccused, as well as the admissibility of evidence obtained in that
connection. The Government concluded that the proceedings before the
Constitutional Court were an effective remedy under Article 13 of the
Convention.
74. Lastly, the Government relied on section 5 of the Law on
Operational Activities to argue that a compensatory mechanism was also
available. They referred to domestic case-law where the first-instance court
examined a civil claim brought by I.J. against the State concerning unlawful
interception of her telephone conversations under that Law and awarded
compensation (case no. C04381306, judgment of 9 February 2007). In the
present case, however, given that no breaches of that Law were found by the
prosecutors office, the applicant was not entitled to compensation.
2. The Courts assessment
75. As the Court has held on many occasions, Article 13 of the
Convention guarantees the availability at national level of a remedy to
enforce the substance of the Convention rights and freedoms in whatever
form they may happen to be secured in the domestic legal order. The effect
of Article 13 is thus to require the provision of a domestic remedy to deal
with the substance of an arguable complaint under the Convention and to
grant appropriate relief, although Contracting States are afforded some
discretion as to the manner in which they conform to their Convention
obligations under this provision (see, for example, Bazjaks v. Latvia,
no. 71572/01, 127, 19 October 2010, with further references).
76. The Court notes that effective domestic remedies required under
Article 13 in the context of Article 8 complaints, as regards operational
measures, are not limited to the issue raised in the present application. In
Association for European Integration and Human Rights and Ekimdzhiev
the Court reiterated that in the context of secret surveillance an effective
remedy under Article 13 meant a remedy that was as effective as it could be
having regard to the restricted scope for recourse inherent in such a system.
In that case the Court verified whether there existed under Bulgarian law
remedies which were effective in this limited sense. The Court noted that
review of surveillance might intervene at three stages: when it was first
ordered, while it was being carried out, or after it had been terminated (see
Association for European Integration and Human Rights and Ekimdzhiev,
cited above, 99).

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MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

77. In the present case, however, the applicants complaint under


Article 13 before the Court is limited only to an allegation that the Latvian
legal system did not provide for independent judicial supervision over
operational measures. The present case does not concern the availability of
compensatory remedies in Latvia (see, for example, Klass and Others
v. Germany, 6 September 1978, 71, Series A no. 28).
78. The Court observes that the applicants allegation in the present case
(see paragraph 67 above) has already been examined and dismissed by the
Latvian Constitutional Court. In particular, it held that the regulatory
framework in Latvia required not only monitoring of operational measures
by a prosecutor, but also provided for independent judicial scrutiny of the
lawfulness of the measures taken (see paragraphs 20.1 in fine and 20.3 of
the Constitutional Courts judgment, paragraph 24 above).
79. In so far as the applicants complaint relates to the lack of a judges
approval of the interception of his telephone conversations, this issue has
been examined under Article 8 of the Convention above. The Court
considers that in the circumstances of this case it is not necessary to
examine the same issue under Article 13 of the Convention (see, for
example, Copland v. the United Kingdom, no. 62617/00, 51, ECHR
2007-I).
80. The Court concludes that there has been no violation of Article 13 of
the Convention.
IV. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION
81. The applicant further complained under Article 10 of the Convention
about certain actions taken by the President of the Constitutional Court
against his lawyer.
82. The Court considers this complaint to be incompatible ratione
personae with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of
Article 35 3 (a) of the Convention. It must therefore be rejected in
accordance with Article 35 4 of the Convention.
V. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
83. Article 41 of the Convention provides:
If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols
thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only
partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to
the injured party.

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

25

A. Damage
84. The applicant claimed 50,000 euros (EUR) in respect of nonpecuniary damage sustained by him.
85. The Government disagreed and considered this sum unjustified,
excessive and exorbitant.
86. Deciding on an equitable basis, the Court awards the applicant
EUR 2,500 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
B. Default interest
87. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate
should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank,
to which should be added three percentage points.

FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,


1. Declares the complaints under Articles 8 and 13 of the Convention
admissible and the remainder of the application inadmissible;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention;
3. Holds that there has been no violation of Article 13 of the Convention;
4. Holds
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months
from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with
Article 44 2 of the Convention, EUR 2,500 (two thousand five
hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of nonpecuniary damage;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until
settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate
equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during
the default period plus three percentage points;
5. Dismisses the remainder of the applicants claim for just satisfaction.

26

MEIMANIS v. LATVIA JUDGMENT

Done in English, and notified in writing on 21 July 2015, pursuant to


Rule 77 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Fato Arac
Deputy Registrar

Guido Raimondi
President