Article 39 - Right to vote and to stand as a candidate at elections to the European Parliament
Article 40 - Right to vote and to stand as a candidate at municipal elections
Article 52 - Scope and interpretation
Key facts of the case:
The case concerns a complaint against the Estonian National Electoral Committee (Vabariigi Valimiskomisjon) by Romeo Kalda, a person who has been convicted and is currently serving life sentence in prison. Mr Kalda attempted to register as a candidate in the 2019 European Parliament elections, which the National Electoral Committee denied. He alleged that the national law (European Parliament Elections Act) that denies all prisoners the right to stand as a candidate or vote in the EP elections (as in other elections) violated the Constitution, the ECHR and CFREU. In a wider context, the same person has submitted several successful complaints regarding human rights of prisoners in Estonia, one of which resulted in the ECtHR decision Kalda vs Estonia (17429/10) related to access to the Internet in prison.
Key legal question:
The Court considered whether the ban for prisoners on standing as a candidate at European Parliament elections is compatible with the Constitution and CFREU.
Outcome of the case:
The Court denied the complaint. It applied an analogous decision it held in a case in 2013 related to local government elections, where it held that since the person cannot move freely, it is not unreasonable to exclude the right to stand as candidate for persons serving a prison sentence. It further stated that excluding those from standing as candidates that have strongly violated rules of living together is a legitimate decision by the legislator. It stated that the limitation is in compliance with CFREU.
20. The Court of Justice of the European Union has held that denying the right to vote for a citizen of a Member State by the legal norms of a European Union Member State in the Member State that they are citizen of is a limitation of the right guaranteed by Article 39 (2) of the CFREU. According to Article 52 (1) of the CFREU such limitation is allowed if it has been provided for by law, if it respects the essence of the rights and freedoms and if the principle of proportionality is followed (the limitation is necessary and responds to general interests recongnised by the Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others) (CJEU 6 October 2015 decision in the case no C-650/13: Delvigne, paras 45-46).
21. The limitation in question at the present case is in compliance with CFREU. Specifically it is so when it comes to the complainant. The complainant has been convicted of serious crimes against a person, for which he has been sentenced to life in prison. The goal of the limitation – to guarantee the inevitability of the punishment and keeping away from public office those persons that have severely violated the legal order – is within the principle of rule of law as recognised by the Union in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). CFREU Article 40 is not applicable in this case, because it regulates the right of a person to vote and stand as a candidate in local elections.
20. Euroopa Kohus on leidnud, et liikmesriigi kodaniku, kes soovib oma hääletamisõigust teostada riigis, mille kodanik ta on, hääletamisõigusest ilmajätmine Euroopa Liidu liikmesriigi õigusnormide alusel kujutab endast ELPH artikli 39 lõikes 2 tagatud õiguse teostamise piirangut. ELPH artikli 52 lõike 1 kohaselt on selline piirang lubatav, kui see on seatud seadusega, arvestatud on nimetatud õiguste ja vabaduste olemust ning järgitud on proportsionaalsuse põhimõtet (piirangud on vajalikud ning vastavad tegelikult liidu poolt tunnustatud üldise huvi eesmärkidele või vajadusele kaitsta teiste isikute õigusi ja vabadusi) (EK 6. oktoobri 2015. a otsus asjas nr C-650/13: Delvigne, punktid 45-46).
21. Praeguses asjas vaadeldav kandideerimisõiguse piirang vastab ELPH-le. Iseäranis peab see paika kaebaja puhul. Kaebaja on süüdi mõistetud rasketes isikuvastastes kuritegudes, mille eest talle on mõistetud eluaegne vanglakaristus. Piirangu eesmärk - tagada karistuse vältimatus ja õiguskorda jämedalt rikkunud isikute eemalhoidmine avaliku võimu teostamisest - on liidu poolt tunnustatud Euroopa Liidu lepingu (ELL) artiklis 2 sätestatud õigusriigi põhimõtte raames. ELPH artikkel 40 ei ole käesolevas asjas kohaldatav, kuna see reguleerib isiku õigust hääletada ja kandideerida kohalikel valimistel.