Latvia’s prohibition against dual citizenship will be reviewed by the nation’s Constitutional Court on April 13 in a case that could have meaning for many Latvians in the diaspora.
The case involves a family in Germany who was told by Latvian officials they would have to first renounce their German citizenship before they could register as citizens of Latvia. The Constitutional Court will have until May 13 to rule on the constitutionality of transitional rules in Latvia’s citizenship law, spokeswoman Līna Kovalevska told Latvians Online in an e-mail.
Baiba Lapiņa-Strunska and Viktors Strunskis and their daughter Rauna argued that they understood they already were Latvian citizens based on passports issued to them by Latvian legations in exile. But when they asked the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (Pilsonības un migrācijas lietu pārvalde) in Rīga for new Latvian passports, they were told that they could not be dual citizens.
After Latvia regained independence in 1991, the government allowed pre-World War II citizens and their descendants to renew their Latvian citizenship without giving up the citizenship of their home countries. However, the offer came with a July 1995 deadline.
Lapiņa-Strunska and Strunskis sued the Latvian government. By last summer, their case had landed in the Supreme Court. That court has yet to rule on the case, but justices in August said the 1995 deadline and the restrictions on dual citizenship, in their opinion, are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court asked the Constitutional Court to look into the matter.
The Constitutional Court had expected to have preparations in the case completed by Dec. 23, but extended its deadline until Feb. 23. The case now is ready, Kovalevska said, and will be reviewed in writing on April 13. Justices will have up to 30 days in which to issue their ruling, or until May 13.
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