European Court of Human Rights - case of Zaicevs v. Latvia (2007) (excerpts)

 

European Court of Human Rights - case of Zaicevs v. Latvia (2007) (excerpts)

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55.  The Government contended that the offence of which the applicant was convicted was an “offence of a minor character” within the meaning of Article 2 § 2. In that connection the Court has considered the terms of the Explanatory Report to Protocol No. 7, which states expressly that when deciding whether an offence is of a minor character, an important criterion is the question of whether the offence is punishable by imprisonment or not (see paragraph 24 above). In the instant case, Article 201-39 of the Regulatory Offences Code stipulated that the offence in question was punishable by a term of detention of up to fifteen days. Having regard to the aim of Article 2 and the nature of the guarantees for which it provides, the Court is satisfied that an offence for which the law prescribes a custodial sentence as the main punishment cannot be described as “minor” within the meaning of the second paragraph of that Article. As to the classification of the offence in national law, the Court has already pointed out that this has only a relative value. The exception invoked by the Government is therefore not applicable in the present case.