December 22, 2009
Latvia’s Constitutional Court has pushed back by two months its deadline for preparing a case that could have bearing on Latvians in the diaspora who wish to apply for dual citizenship.
The court had expected to finish its preparations by Dec. 23 in the case involving a Latvian family in Germany who sued the Latvian government after being told they would have to renounce their German citizenship before they could apply for Latvian passports.
According to Constitutional Court spokeswoman Līna Kovalevska, the deadline has been rescheduled to Feb. 23.
“The deadline for preparing a case may be extended if the case is complicated,” Kovalevska told Latvians Online in an e-mail. The maximum time allowed for preparing a case is five months from its date of initiation, she added.
At the urging of Latvia’s Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court on Sept. 23 initiated the case challenging parts of the citizenship law. Transitional rules in the law allowed exile Latvians and their descendants until July 1995 to register as Latvian citizens without giving up citizenship in their home countries. Since that date, dual citizenship has been outlawed.
The Supreme Court in an Aug. 25 opinion said the restrictions are unconstitutional. The court now is waiting for word from the Constitutional Court before it rules on the case of Baiba Lapiņa-Strunska and Viktors Strunskis and their daughter Rauna. The family sued the government after the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (Pilsonības un migrācijas lietu pārvalde, or PMLP) told them that they would have to give up their German citizenship before they could register as Latvian citizens. According to the Strunskis family, passports issued to them by Latvian legations in exile were evidence that they already were Latvian citizens, but the PMLP disagreed.
Approximately 30,000 ethnic Latvians abroad became dual citizens before the 1995 deadline. However, others have complained that they did not know about the cut-off date.
Once the Constitutional Court finishes its preparations, it would schedule a hearing date for the case. Under court rules, it is supposed to issue an opinion within 30 days of the hearing.
Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000-2012 he was editor of the website.