The President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, participated in the discussion in Strasbourg dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights
On 31 January in Strasbourg (the French Republic), the President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, and Justice Danutė Jočienė participated in the seminar “The European Convention on Human Rights: living instrument at 70,” organised for judges by the European Court of Human Rights, and in the ceremony to mark the official opening of the judicial year.
The participants of the seminar discussed the European Convention on Human Rights as a living instrument and challenges related to various issues concerning gender equality, environmental, science, and technology.
The annual event of the ECtHR is attended by leading lawyers from different European countries and by the heads of national supreme courts.
The President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, pointed out that there has been successful dialogue between the Constitutional Court and the ECtHR in recent years.
“I would like to emphasise that this is precisely dialogue, since not only the case law of the ECtHR is one of the sources in deciding constitutional justice cases, but the ECtHR also refers to the official constitutional doctrine developed by the Constitutional Court. Therefore, both the Constitutional Court and the ECtHR, with one voice, protect human rights as universal constitutional values. The most recent example is the judgment of the ECtHR adopted in January in the case Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania, where the ECtHR extensively refers to the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 11 January 2019 as an advanced source of constitutional law on which all national practice must be based. In this ruling, it was emphasised that the Constitution is an anti-majoritarian act and this means that only a state that respects the dignity of each person can be considered genuinely democratic. Such respect for the dignity of each person must be ensured regardless of the attitudes or stereotypes of the majority of the members of society prevailing at a given time. Thus, discrimination against persons solely on the grounds of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation cannot be constitutionally justifiable. The same was also held by the ECtHR from the point of view of the European Convention on Human Rights”, Dainius Žalimas said.
Another example of this successful dialogue over recent years is the judgment of the ECtHR adopted in 2019 in the case Drėlingas v. Lithuania. In this judgment, the ECtHR acknowledged that the mass destruction of partisans could be considered genocide, among other things, on the basis of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 18 March 2014, which revealed the issues concerning the legal status of Lithuanian partisans and the qualification of crimes committed against them under the occupation regime.
In the opinion of the President of the Constitutional Court, dialogue between the ECtHR and the Constitutional Court is useful both in developing the law of the European Convention on Human Rights and in cultivating, in Lithuania, respect for democratic values and tolerance of western level. Therefore, according to Dainius Žalimas, when the judgments of the ECtHR, as well as the rulings of the Constitutional Court, are considered, it is necessary to think not about how much their implementation can cost but what the state should do to ensure that the rights of its citizens are not violated.