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Inauguration of the Constitutional Assembly of Latvia, 1 May 1920
Latvia

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The Constitution of Latvia (Latvian: Satversme) is the fundamental law of the Republic of Latvia. It was adopted by, as it states itself, the people of Latvia, in a freely elected Constitutional Assembly, on 15 February 1922 and came into force on 7 November 1922. It was influenced by ideas of the Weimar Constitution and Swiss Federal Constitution. Although the initial bill consisted of two parts, the second part, which regulated citizens' rights and obligations was voted down; a chapter on fundamental human rights was added only by amendment in 1998. After the 1934 coup d'etat a declaration was passed which assigned functions of the parliament to the Cabinet of Ministers until a new constitution could be drafted, thereby partly suspending the constitution. A new constitution was never drafted and during World War II Latvia was annexed by the Soviet Union. In 1990 the parliament of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic declared the annexation of Latvia illegal, as it was acted out ignoring the Constitution of Latvia and both the constitution and Republic of Latvia still existed de jure thereby restoring the independence of Latvia. The constitution, except for the Articles 1, 2, 3 and 6 ,was suspended by the same declaration in order to be reviewed; the constitution was fully reinforced by the first assembly of the fifth Saeima in 1993. The constitution establishes six bodies of government, it consists of 116 articles arranged in eight chapters.

Contents

Etymology

In Latvian, satversme is a synonym of 'constitution' (konstitūcija). The term was coined by Atis Kronvalds, one of the leaders of Latvian romantic nationalism in the 19th century. The movement was trying to promote Latvian culture after centuries of Baltic German influence and encourage use of Latvian. Kronvalds and like-minded individuals introduced several new terms intended to be used over loanwords in everyday use. He derived the term "satversme" from -tver- ("to hold"), combining it with the prefix "sa-", indicating something longlasting and strong, the -sm- suffix, and a feminine ending, -e, to illustrate how a constitution holds together all other laws.[1][2]

History

The Constitution was drafted by the Constitutional Assembly of Latvia (Satversmes sapulce), which consisted of 150 members elected in general elections. The initial bill was elaborated by a Constitutional committee (Satversmes komisija) and consisted of two parts. It was influenced by ideas of Weimar Constitution and Swiss Federal Constitution.[2] The first regulated the state's institutions; the second, citizens' rights and obligations. The committee presented its work on 20 September 1921. The first part of the bill was passed on 15 February 1922, while the second part was voted down on 5 April 1922. On 20 June 1922 a law was passed that set the new constitution to come into force at 12 a.m. on 7 November 1922. [3][4] On 15 May 1934, a coup d'etat led by Kārlis Ulmanis took place; the subsequent cabinet of Ulmanis passed a declaration that gave the functions of parliament to the Cabinet of Ministers until a new constitution was drafted, which never happened.[5] During World War II a Soviet government was established and a parliament called the "People's Saeima of Latvia" was elected. The legality of this parliament and its decisions is questioned–Soviets considered that the constitution was nullified by Ulmanis' coup d'état, so the People's Saeima never formally annulled it.[6] However, Latvian lawyers and historians observe that the constitution was still in effect, since Ulmanis' declaration only assigned the functions of the Saeima to the cabinet and did not cancel any part of the constitution, and that the People's Saeima was elected in accordance with the constitution of Russian SFSR, not in accordance with that of Latvia, and thus it had no legal rights to legislate, and by declaring accession to the Soviet Union, it broke the first article of the Satversme.[4][5] After declaring accession to the USSR, the People's Saeima drafted a Constitution of LSSR on the basis of the Constitution of the Soviet Union. It was adopted a month after, on 25 August 1940. On 18 April 1978 the government of the LSSR adopted a new constitution.[6] On 4 May 1990 the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia declared Latvia independent and adopted articles 1, 2, 3 and 6 of the constitution of 1922. The rest of the constitution remained in abeyance until it was reviewed to fit the modern situation[7 ], thus the constitution was fully reinforced by 5th Saeima on 6 July 1993 [8] in accordance to 14 article of law "On organisation of job of Supreme Council of Republic of Latvia" [2][9]

Overview

The Constitution of Latvia is a codified constitution and currently consists of 116 articles arranged in eight chapters: [10]

  • Chapter 1: General Provisions (articles 1-4)
  • Chapter 2: Saeima (articles 5-34)
  • Chapter 3: The President (articles 35-54)
  • Chapter 4: The Cabinet (articles 55-63)
  • Chapter 5: Legislation (articles 64-81)
  • Chapter 6: Courts (articles 82-86)
  • Chapter 7: The State Audit Office (articles 87-88)
  • Chapter 8: Fundamental human rights (articles 89-116)

Thus the constitution establishes five government bodies - the Saeima, the President, the Cabinet, the Courts and the State Audit Office.

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Key principles

Articles 1, 2, 3 and 6, which establish the legal basis of the state's political system, were the first to be adopted after the restoration of independence. These articles, along with articles 4 and 77, can only be amended if submitted to a national referendum:

1. Latvia is an independent democratic republic.
2. The sovereign power of the State of Latvia is vested in the people of Latvia.
3. The territory of the State of Latvia, within the borders established by international agreements, consists of Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme and Zemgale.
4. The Latvian language is the official language in The Republic of Latvia. The national flag of Latvia shall be red with a band of white.
6. The Saeima shall be elected in general, equal and direct elections, and by secret ballot based on proportional representation.
77. If the Saeima has amended the first, second, third, fourth, sixth or seventy-seventh Article of the Constitution, such amendments, in order to come into force as law, shall be submitted to a national referendum.[11]

Saeima

The Saeima, the parliament of Latvia, consists of 100 members, designeted by the constitution as representatives of the people. It is elected in general, equal and direct elections for a term of four years, by secret ballot based on proportional representation of voters in each electoral district. The Constitution describes in general how the Saeima should work, noting that the Saeima should also establish rules of order to regulate its internal operations and order.[10]

Executive branch

Executive power is vested in the President and the Cabinet of ministers. The President however is not politically responsible for carrying out his duties and all his orders have to be signed by the Prime Minister or by the appropriate Minister who thereby becomes responsible for this order. There are two exceptions to this rule - the President can single-handedly decide to dissolve the Saeima and when a new government is formed it is up to him to choose a new Prime Minister. The cabinet is formed by the Prime Minister.[10]

Courts

The Constitution establishes district (city) courts, regional courts, the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court, and rules that, in the event of war or a state of emergency, military courts can also be established. Judges are to be appointed by the Saeima and this decision is irreversible, the Saeima can forcibly remove a judge from office only upon a decision of the Judicial Disciplinary Board or a judgment of the Court in a criminal case.[10]

Legislation

Under the constitution, the right to legislate has been granted to the Saeima. Draft laws may be submitted to the Saeima by the President, the Cabinet or committees of the Saeima, by more than five MPs or by one-tenth of the electorate if provisions to do so, set out in the Constitution, are met. Laws are to be adopted by the Saeima and proclaimed by the President.[10]

The State Audit Office of the Republic of Latvia is an independent collegial supreme audit institution, a key element in the State’s financial control system serving public interest by providing independent assurance on the effective and useful utilization of central and local government resources.[10]

State Audit Office

The Constitution establishes the State Audit Office as an independent collegial institution and describes the process of appointing Auditors General - the procedure is essentially the same as when appointing judges, with the exception that Auditor General has a fixed term of office.[10] The State Audit Office controls how the state financial resources are used.[12]

Fundamental human rights

Although the constitutional bill included a chapter that was to regulate citizens' rights and obligations this was not originally adopted. The chapter on human rights was added as part of constitutional amendment in 1998.[10]

Amendments

Provisions for amendments are stated in articles 76-79 of the constitution. Amendments to most articles can be made by the Saeima. Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 77 and exceptions, as article 77 requires a referendum to amend these articles.[10] During the interwar period amendments were rare–only one amendment was made and one major amendment was almost passed, but was never adopted due to the coup. Since the renewal of independence, however, eight amendments have been made. In 1994 the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. In 1996, the Constitutional Court was established. In 1997, major changes to the articles regulating the process of elections and the functions of Saeima, the President and the Cabinet were made. In 1998, aside from adding chapter eight (fundamental human rights) to the constitution, official status was granted to the Latvian language, the requirement for a referendum to change articles 4 and 77 was made, and article 82 was fully changed;[13] it now defines types of courts in Latvia. In 2002 requirement for members of Saeima to give a solemn promise to acquire their mandate. Official status for the Latvian language was further secured by making it the working language of state and municipal structures. In 2003 several amendments were made in order for Latvia to join the European Union. In 2004 amendments to certain rights of the president and citizens were made. In 2006 an amendment that defined that marriage as the union of one man and one woman was added. In 2007 article 40 was amended and article 81 was abolished.

References and notes

  1. ^ Atis Kronvalds (retrieved on 2007-05-26)
  2. ^ a b c Politics in Latvia (retrieved on 2007-05-26)
  3. ^ (Latvian) The Constitutional Assembly: The first elected parliament of Latvia (Retrieved on 24 December 2006)
  4. ^ a b (Latvian) Freibergs J. (1998, 2001) Jaunāko laiku vēsture 20. gadsimts Zvaigzne ABC ISBN 9984-17-049-7
  5. ^ a b (Latvian) Resolution of Five senators of Senate of Latvia on validity of Constitution of Latvia and authority of Saeima in conditions of occupation (Retrieved on 24 December 2006)
  6. ^ a b (Latvian) Editorial board of chief editorial office of encyclopedias (1987) Politiskā enciklopēdija Chief editorial office of encyclopedias
  7. ^ (Latvian) Declaration of independence of 4 May 1990 (Retrieved on 24 December 2006)
  8. ^ (Latvian) First sitting of 5th Saeima (transcript) (Retrieved on 2 January 2007)
  9. ^ (Latvian) Law "On organisation of job of Supreme Council of Republic of Latvia" (Retrieved on 2 January 2007)
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i (Latvian) Constitution of the Republic of Latvia with amendments and revisions (Official english translation) (Retrieved on 24 December 2006)
  11. ^ Articles 4. and 77. were not originally included, an amendment to this article adding them was made on 15 October 1998
  12. ^ (English) About the State Audit Office (Retrieved on 3 January 2008)
  13. ^ Originally, article 82 stated that all citizens of Latvia are equal before the law and the courts. Article 9 now makes a similar statement but, unlike the original article 82, it refers to all human beings in Latvia and states that human rights should be enforced with no discrimination

External links

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Up to date as of January 22, 2010

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Constitution of Latvia
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Contents

Constitution of Latvia

(Adopted on 15 February, 1922, came into force on 7 November, 1922.)

(With amendments, excluding amendments made after 2002)


The people of Latvia, in freely elected Constitutional Assembly, have adopted the following State Constitution:

Chapter I: General Provisions

1. Latvia is an independent democratic republic.

2. The sovereign power of the State of Latvia is vested in the people of Latvia.

3. The territory of the State of Latvia, within the borders established by international agreements, consists of Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme and Zemgale.

4. The Latvian language is the official language in the Republic of Latvia. The national flag of Latvia shall be red with a band of white.

Chapter II: Saeima

5. The Saeima shall be composed of one hundred representatives of the people.

6. The Saeima shall be elected in general, equal and direct elections, and by secret ballot based on proportional representation.

7. In the division of Latvia into separate electoral districts, provision for the number of members of the Saeima to be elected from each district shall be proportional to the number of electors in each district.

8. All citizens of Latvia who enjoy full rights of citizenship and, who on election day have attained eighteen years of age shall be entitled to vote.

9. Any citizen of Latvia, who enjoys full rights of citizenship and, who is more than twenty-one years of age on the first day of elections may be elected to the Saeima.

10. The Saeima shall be elected for a term of four years.

11. Elections for the Saeima shall be held on the first Saturday in October.

12. The newly elected Saeima shall hold its first sitting on the first Tuesday in November, when the mandate of the previous Saeima shall expire.

13. Should elections for the Saeima, by reason of the dissolution of the previous Saeima, be held at another time of the year, the Saeima so elected shall convene not later than one month after its election, and its mandate shall expire upon the convening of the new Saeima on the first Tuesday in November following the elapse of three years after such election.

14. The electors may not recall any individual member of the Saeima.

15. The Saeima shall hold its sittings in Riga, and only in extraordinary circumstances may it convene elsewhere.

16. The Saeima shall elect a Presidium that shall be composed of a Chairperson, two Deputies and Secretaries. The Presidium shall function continuously during the mandate of the Saeima.

17. The first sitting of the newly elected Saeima shall be opened by the Chairperson of the preceding Saeima or by another member of the Presidium at the direction of the Presidium.

18. The Saeima itself shall review the qualifications of its members.

A person elected to the Saeima shall acquire the mandate of a Member of the Saeima if such person gives the following solemn promise:

"I, upon assuming the duties of a Member of the Saeima, before the people of Latvia, do swear (solemnly promise) to be loyal to Latvia, to strengthen its sovereignty and the Latvian language as the only official language, to defend Latvia as an independent and democratic State, and to fulfil my duties honestly and conscientiously. I undertake to observe the Constitution and laws of Latvia."

19. The Presidium shall convene sessions of the Saeima and schedule regular and extraordinary sittings.

20. The Presidium shall convene sittings of the Saeima if requested by the President, the Prime Minister, or not less than one third of the members of the Saeima.

21. The Saeima shall establish rules of order to provide for its internal operations and order. The working language of the Saeima is the Latvian language.

22. Sittings of the Saeima shall be public. The Saeima may decide by a majority vote of not less than two-thirds of the members present to sit in closed session, if so requested by ten members of the Saeima, or by the President, the Prime Minister, or a Minister.

23. Sittings of the Saeima may take place if at least half of the members of the Saeima participate therein.

24. The Saeima shall make decisions by an absolute majority of votes of the members present at the sitting, except in cases specifically set out in the Constitution.

25. The Saeima shall establish committees and determine the number of members and their duties. Committees have the right to require of individual Ministers or local government authorities information and explanations necessary for the work of the committees, and the right to invite to their sittings responsible representatives from the relevant ministries or local government authorities to furnish explanations. Committees may also carry on their work between sessions of the Saeima.

26. The Saeima shall appoint parliamentary investigatory committees for specified matters if not less than one-third of its members request it.

27. The Saeima shall have the right to submit to the Prime Minister or to an individual Minister requests and questions which either they, or a responsible government official duly authorised by them, must answer. The Prime Minister or any Minister shall furnish the relevant documents and enactments requested by the Saeima or by any of its committees.

28. Members of the Saeima may not be called to account by any judicial, administrative or disciplinary process in connection with their voting or their views as expressed during the execution of their duties. Court proceedings may be brought against members of the Saeima if they, albeit in the course of performing parliamentary duties, disseminate:

1) defamatory statements which they know to be false, or

2) defamatory statements about private or family life.

29. Members of the Saeima shall not be arrested, nor shall their premises be searched, nor shall their personal liberty be restricted in any way without the consent of the Saeima. Members of the Saeima may be arrested if apprehended in the act of committing a crime. The Presidium shall be notified within twenty-four hours of the arrest of any member of the Saeima; the Presidium shall raise the matter at the next sitting of the Saeima for decision as to whether the member shall continue to be held in detention or be released. When the Saeima is not in session, pending the opening of a session, the Presidium shall decide whether the member of the Saeima shall remain in detention.

30. Without the consent of the Saeima, criminal prosecution may not be commenced and administrative fines may not be levied against its members.

31. Members of the Saeima have the right to refuse to give evidence:

1) concerning persons who have entrusted to them, as representatives of the people, certain facts or information;

2) concerning persons to whom they, as representatives of the people, have entrusted certain facts or information; or

3) concerning such facts or information itself.

32. Members of the Saeima may not, either personally or in the name of another person, receive government contracts or concessions. The provisions of this Article shall apply to Ministers even if they are not members of the Saeima.

33. The remuneration of members of the Saeima shall be from state funds.

34. No person may be called to account for reporting the sittings of the Saeima or its committees if such reports correspond to fact. Information about closed sessions of either the Saeima or its committees may only be disclosed with the permission of the Presidium of the Saeima or the committee.

Chapter III: The President

35. The Saeima shall elect the President for a term of four years.

36. The President shall be elected by secret ballot with a majority of the votes of not less than fifty-one members of the Saeima.

37. Any person who enjoys full rights of citizenship and who has attained the age of forty years may be elected President. A person with dual citizenship may not be elected President.

38. The office of the President shall not be held concurrently with any other office. If the person elected as President is a member of the Saeima, he or she shall resign his or her mandate as a member of the Saeima.

39. The same person shall not hold office as President for more than eight consecutive years.

40. The President, at the first sitting of the Saeima held after the election of the President, on assuming office, shall take the following solemn oath:

“I swear that all of my work will be dedicated to the welfare of the people of Latvia. I will do everything in my power to promote the prosperity of the Republic of Latvia and all who live here. I will hold sacred and will observe the Constitution of Latvia and the laws of the State. I will act justly towards all and will fulfil my duties conscientiously.”

41. The President shall represent the State in international relations, appoint the diplomatic representatives of Latvia, and also receive diplomatic representatives of other states. The President shall implement the decisions of the Saeima concerning the ratification of international agreements.

42. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Latvia. During wartime, the President shall appoint a Supreme Commander.

43. The President shall declare war on the basis of a decision of the Saeima.

44. The President has the right to take whatever steps are necessary for the military defence of the State should another state declare war on Latvia or an enemy invade its borders. Concurrently and without delay, the President shall convene the Saeima, which shall decide as to the declaration and commencement of war.

45. The President has the right to grant clemency to criminals against whom judgment of the court has come into legal effect. The extent of, and procedures for, the utilisation of this right shall be set out in a specific law. Amnesty is granted by the Saeima.

46. The President has the right to convene and to preside over extraordinary meetings of the Cabinet and to determine the agenda of such meetings.

47. The President has the right to initiate legislation.

48. The President shall be entitled to propose the dissolution of the Saeima. Following this proposal, a national referendum shall be held. If in the referendum more than half of the votes are cast in favour of dissolution, the Saeima shall be considered dissolved, new elections called, and such elections held no later than two months after the date of the dissolution of the Saeima.

49. If the Saeima has been dissolved, the mandate of the members of the Saeima shall continue in effect until the newly elected Saeima has convened, but the dissolved Saeima may only hold sittings at the request of the President. The agenda of such sittings shall be determined by the President.

50. If in the referendum more than half of the votes are cast against the dissolution of the Saeima, then the President shall be deemed to be removed from office, and the Saeima shall elect a new President to serve for the remaining term of office of the President so removed.

51. Upon the proposal of not less than half of all of the members of the Saeima, the Saeima may decide, in closed session and with a majority vote of not less than two-thirds of all of its members, to remove the President from office.

52. If the President resigns from office, dies or is removed from office before their term has ended, the Chairperson of the Saeima shall assume the duties of the President until the Saeima has elected a new President. Similarly, the Chairperson of the Saeima shall assume the duties of the President if the latter is away from Latvia or for any other reason unable to fulfil the duties of office.

53. Political responsibility for the fulfilment of presidential duties shall not be borne by the President. All orders of the President shall be jointly signed by the Prime Minister or by the appropriate Minister, who shall thereby assume full responsibility for such orders except in the cases specified in Articles forty-eight and fifty-six.

54. The President may be subject to criminal liability if the Saeima consents thereto by a majority vote of not less than two-thirds.

Chapter IV:The Cabinet

55. The Cabinet shall be composed of the Prime Minister and the Ministers chosen by the Prime Minister.

56. The Cabinet shall be formed by the person who has been invited by the President to do so.

57. The number of ministries and the scope of their responsibilities, as well as the relations between State institutions, shall be as provided for by law.

58. The administrative institutions of the State shall be under the authority of the Cabinet.

59. In order to fulfil their duties, the Prime Minister and other Ministers must have the confidence of the Saeima and they shall be accountable to the Saeima for their actions. If the Saeima expresses no confidence in the Prime Minister, the entire Cabinet shall resign. If there is an expression of no confidence in an individual Minister, then the Minister shall resign and another person shall be invited to replace them by the Prime Minister.

60. Meetings of the Cabinet shall be chaired by the Prime Minister, and in the absence of the Prime Minister, by a Minister authorised to do so by the Prime Minister.

61. The Cabinet shall deliberate draft laws prepared by individual ministries as well as matters which pertain to the activities of more than one ministry, and issues of State policy raised by individual members of Cabinet.

62. If the State is threatened by an external enemy, or if an internal insurrection which endangers the existing political system arises or threatens to arise in the State or in any part of the State, the Cabinet has the right to proclaim a state of emergency and shall inform the Presidium within twenty-four hours and the Presidium shall, without delay, present such decision of the Cabinet to the Saeima.

63. Ministers, even if they are not members of the Saeima, and responsible government officials authorised by a Minister, have the right to attend sittings of the Saeima and its committees and to submit additions and amendments to draft laws.

Chapter V: Legislation

64. The Saeima, and also the people, have the right to legislate, in accordance with the procedures, and to the extent, provided for by this Constitution.

65. Draft laws may be submitted to the Saeima by the President, the Cabinet or committees of the Saeima, by not less than five members of the Saeima, or, in accordance with the procedures and in the cases provided for in this Constitution, by one-tenth of the electorate.

66. Annually, before the commencement of each financial year, the Saeima shall determine the State Revenues and Expenditures Budget, the draft of which shall be submitted to the Saeima by the Cabinet.

If the Saeima makes a decision that involves expenditures not included in the Budget, then this decision must also allocate funds to cover such expenditures.

After the end of the budgetary year, the Cabinet shall submit an accounting of budgetary expenditures for the approval of the Saeima.

67. The Saeima shall determine the size of the armed forces of the State during peacetime.

68. All international agreements, which settle matters that may be decided by the legislative process, shall require ratification by the Saeima.

69. The President shall proclaim laws passed by the Saeima not earlier than the seventh day and not later than the twenty-first day after the law has been adopted. A law shall come into force fourteen days after its proclamation unless a different term has been specified in the law.

70. The President shall proclaim adopted laws in the following manner:

“The Saeima (that is, the People) has adopted and the President has proclaimed the following law: (text of the law).”

71. Within seven days of the adoption of a law by the Saeima, the President, by means of a written and reasoned request to the Chairperson of the Saeima, may require that a law be reconsidered. If the Saeima does not amend the law, the President then may not raise objections a second time.

72. The President has the right to suspend the proclamation of a law for a period of two months. The President shall suspend the proclamation of a law if so requested by not less than one-third of the members of the Saeima. This right may be exercised by the President, or by one-third of the members of the Saeima, within seven days of the adoption of the law by the Saeima. The law thus suspended shall be put to a national referendum if so requested by not less than one-tenth of the electorate. If no such request is received during the aforementioned two-month period, the law shall then be proclaimed after the expiration of such period. A national referendum shall not take place, however, if the Saeima again votes on the law and not less than three-quarters of all members of the Saeima vote for the adoption of the law.

73. The Budget and laws concerning loans, taxes, customs duties, railroad tariffs, military conscription, declaration and commencement of war, peace treaties, declaration of a state of emergency and its termination, mobilisation and demobilisation, as well as agreements with other nations may not be submitted to national referendum.

74. A law adopted by the Saeima and suspended pursuant to the procedures specified in Article seventy-two shall be repealed by national referendum if the number of voters is at least half of the number of electors as participated in the previous Saeima election and if the majority has voted for repeal of the law.

75. Should the Saeima, by not less than a two thirds majority vote, determine a law to be urgent, the President may not request reconsideration of such law, it may not be submitted to national referendum, and the adopted law shall be proclaimed no later than the third day after the President has received it.

76. The Saeima may amend the Constitution in sittings at which at least two-thirds of the members of the Saeima participate. The amendments shall be passed in three readings by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present.

77. If the Saeima has amended the first, second, third, fourth, sixth or seventy-seventh Article of the Constitution, such amendments, in order to come into force as law, shall be submitted to a national referendum.

78. Electors, in number comprising not less than one tenth of the electorate, have the right to submit a fully elaborated draft of an amendment to the Constitution or of a law to the President, who shall present it to the Saeima. If the Saeima does not adopt it without change as to its content, it shall then be submitted to national referendum.

79. An amendment to the Constitution submitted for national referendum shall be deemed adopted if at least half of the electorate has voted in favour. A draft law submitted for national referendum shall be deemed adopted if the number of voters is at least half of the number of electors as participated in the previous Saeima election and if the majority has voted in favour of the draft law.

80. All citizens of Latvia who have the right to vote in elections of the Saeima may participate in national referendums.

81. During the time between sessions of the Saeima, the Cabinet has the right, if there is an urgent need, to issue regulations that have the force of law. Such regulations may not amend the law regarding elections of the Saeima, laws governing the court system and court proceedings, the Budget and rights pertaining to the Budget, as well as laws adopted during the term of the current Saeima, and they may not pertain to amnesty, state taxes, customs duties, and loans and they shall cease to be in force unless submitted to the Saeima not later than three days after the next session of the Saeima has been convened.

Chapter VI: Courts

82. In Latvia, court cases shall be heard by district (city) courts, regional courts and the Supreme Court, but in the event of war or a state of emergency, also by military courts. Judges shall be independent and subject only to the law.

84. Judicial appointments shall be confirmed by the Saeima and they shall be irrevocable. The Saeima may remove judges from office against their will only in the cases provided for by law, based upon a decision of the Judicial Disciplinary Board or a judgment of the Court in a criminal case. The age of retirement from office for judges may be determined by law.

85. In Latvia, there shall be a Constitutional Court, which, within 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. The appointment of judges to the Constitutional Court shall be confirmed by the Saeima for the term provided for by law, by secret ballot with a majority of the votes of not less than fifty-one members of the Saeima.

86. Decisions in court proceedings may be made only by bodies upon whom jurisdiction regarding such has been conferred by law, and only in accordance with procedures provided for by law. Military courts shall act on the basis of a specific law.

Chapter VII: The State Audit Office

87. The State Audit Office shall be an independent collegial institution.

88. Auditors General shall be appointed to their office and confirmed pursuant to the same procedures as judges, but only for a fixed period of time, during which they may be removed from office only by a judgment of the Court. The organisation and responsibilities of the State Audit Office shall be provided for by a specific law.

Chapter VIII: Fundamental Human Rights

89. The State shall recognise and protect fundamental human rights in accordance with this Constitution, laws and international agreements binding upon Latvia.

90. Everyone has the right to know about their rights.

91. All human beings in Latvia shall be equal before the law and the courts.

Human rights shall be realised without discrimination of any kind.

92. Everyone has the right to defend their rights and lawful interests in a fair court. Everyone shall be presumed innocent until their guilt has been established in accordance with law. Everyone, where their rights are violated without basis, has a right to commensurate compensation. Everyone has a right to the assistance of counsel.

93. The right to life of everyone shall be protected by law.

94. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one may be deprived of or have their liberty restricted, otherwise than in accordance with law.

95. The State shall protect human honour and dignity. Torture or other cruel or degrading treatment of human beings is prohibited. No one shall be subjected to inhuman or degrading punishment.

96. Everyone has the right to inviolability of their private life, home and correspondence.

97. Everyone residing lawfully in the territory of Latvia has the right to freely move and to choose their place of residence.

98. Everyone has the right to freely depart from Latvia. Everyone having a Latvian passport shall be protected by the State when abroad and has the right to freely return to Latvia. A citizen of Latvia may not be extradited to a foreign country.

99. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The church shall be separate from the State.

100. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to freely receive, keep and distribute information and to express their views. Censorship is prohibited.

101. Every citizen of Latvia has the right, as provided for by law, to participate in the activities of the State and of local government, and to hold a position in the civil service. Local governments shall be elected by Latvian citizens who enjoy full rights of citizenship. The working language of local governments is the Latvian language

102. Everyone has the right to form and join associations, political parties and other public organisations.

103. The State shall protect the freedom of previously announced peaceful meetings, street processions, and pickets.

104. Everyone has the right to address submissions to State or local government institutions and to receive a materially responsive reply. Everyone has the right to receive a reply in the Latvian language.

105. Everyone has the right to own property. Property shall not be used contrary to the interests of the public. Property rights may be restricted only in accordance with law. Expropriation of property for public purposes shall be allowed only in exceptional cases on the basis of a specific law and in return for fair compensation.

106. Everyone has the right to freely choose their employment and workplace according to their abilities and qualifications. Forced labour is prohibited. Participation in the relief of disasters and their effects, and work pursuant to a court order shall not be deemed forced labour.

107. Every employed person has the right to receive, for work done, commensurate remuneration which shall not be less than the minimum wage established by the State, and has the right to weekly holidays and a paid annual vacation.

108. Employed persons have the right to a collective labour agreement, and the right to strike. The State shall protect the freedom of trade unions.

109. Everyone has the right to social security in old age, for work disability, for unemployment and in other cases as provided by law.

110. The State shall protect and support marriage, the family, the rights of parents and rights of the child. The State shall provide special support to disabled children, children left without parental care or who have suffered from violence.

111. The State shall protect human health and guarantee a basic level of medical assistance for everyone.

112. Everyone has the right to education. The State shall ensure that everyone may acquire primary and secondary education without charge. Primary education shall be compulsory.

113. The State shall recognise the freedom of scientific research, artistic and other creative activity, and shall protect copyright and patent rights.

114. Persons belonging to ethnic minorities have the right to preserve and develop their language and their ethnic and cultural identity.

115. The State shall protect the right of everyone to live in a benevolent environment by providing information about environmental conditions and by promoting the preservation and improvement of the environment.

116. The rights of persons set out in Articles ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, one hundred, one hundred and two, one hundred and three, one hundred and six, and one hundred and eight of the Constitution may be subject to restrictions in circumstances provided for by law in order to protect the rights of other people, the democratic structure of the State, and public safety, welfare and morals. On the basis of the conditions set forth in this Article, restrictions may also be imposed on the expression of religious beliefs.

Adopted by the Constitutional Assembly of Latvia on 15 February 1922

President of the Constitutional Assembly J. Čakste

Secretary of the Constitutional Assembly R. Ivanovs

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