MINELRES: ERT: Strasbourg Court finds discrimination on grounds of statelessness

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Feb 25 20:54:03 2009

Original sender: Equal Rights Trust <equalrightstrust1@response.pure360.com>

Stateless pensioner discriminated against by Latvia  
London, 24 February 2009  
On 18 February 2009, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court)
handed down the judgment in the case of Andrejeva v. Latvia (Application
no. 55707/00). The applicant, Ms. Natalija Andrejeva, claimed a
violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights
(prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 1 of
Protocol No.1 (right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions) and Article 6
(right to fair trial). 

The case involved the calculation of Ms. Andrejeva’s pension award under
the State Pensions Act 1995 (the Act). The Supreme Court of Latvia
interpreted the Act narrowly to exclude from the pension calculation a
period in which her work did not constitute “employment in the territory
of Latvia”. However, in reality the applicant had physically been
working in Latvia throughout her employment, she was nominally employed
by Soviet but non-Latvian agencies and had social tax paid on her behalf
on the same basis as Latvian citizens. Ms Andrejeva, who came to live in
Latvia as a child, spent her entire working life there and became
stateless as a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December
1991. She complained of the fact that this interpretation was applied
only to non-citizens, including stateless people. As a result she
received a considerably lower pension than that received by Latvian
citizens in a similar position. 

Finding a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 1 of
Protocol No.1, the Court held that the sole reason for refusing to take
account of Ms Andrejeva’s employment “outside Latvia” for her pension
calculations was her lack of citizenship (her status as a stateless
person). Despite recognising that the State had a legitimate aim in
taking into account its own budgetary limitations to protect the
country’s economic system, the Court could not find a reason substantial
enough to justify such a differentiation in treatment.  Further, the
Court held that the fact that the Senate of the Supreme Court had held
its hearing earlier than scheduled, thus preventing Ms Andrejeva from
taking part in the examination of the appeal on points of law lodged by
the public prosecutor on her behalf, constituted a violation of Article

The case illustrates the unique vulnerability of stateless people to
discrimination in all areas of life. Indeed, the Court observed the
particular disadvantage in Ms Andrejeva’s situation as a ‘permanently
resident non-citizen’ of Latvia, whereas Latvia was “the only State with
which she has any stable legal ties and thus the only State which,
objectively, can assume responsibility for her in terms of social

To read ERT case summary click here:

To read the full text of the case click here:

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