Venice Commission on Banning Sor: The Decision Must Be Lawful, Necessary, and Proportionate

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The Venice Commission believes that banning a political party is an interference with the right to freedom of association, and the decision to do so must be lawful, necessary, and proportionate. The statement was made as part of an opinion on a Constitutional Court inquiry into the constitutionality of the Sor party, reported “The Venice Commission reiterates that to declare a political party unconstitutional would be an interference with the right to freedom of association, protected by Article 11 of the ECtHR. Such a prohibition must be subject to the restrictive clause of Article 11(2) of the ECtHR, narrowly construed. This must comply with the three requirements of legislative restrictions, the requirements of lawfulness, legitimacy and strict necessity and proportionality. According to the Moldovan Constitution, the Constitution and relevant laws must be interpreted in accordance with these requirements,” the report reads. The Venice Commission notes that it cannot replace the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova in analyzing the actions of a party or party leadership that could justify the recognition of its unconstitutionality. “The Commission is not in a position to formulate all hypothetical scenarios contrary to pluralism, the rule of law, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity that would justify the dissolution of the party in accordance with the Constitution and international standards. The Commission does not have detailed information about the multiple legal proceedings against party leaders and members, which may be at different stages in different courts/competent institutions. The Constitutional Court is in a better position to gather and assess all relevant facts, especially the purposes and activities of political parties, and weigh them in a decision on constitutionality,” notes the Venice Commission. The Venice Commission has provided the Constitutional Court with information on relevant European and international standards as well as comparative practice on the subject matter of the request. However, the Venice Commission notes that the Constitutional Court is responsible for having the last word in interpreting the Constitution and the compatibility of national legislation with decisions taken. Recall that the Government asked the Constitutional Court to review the constitutionality of the Sor party in order to annul its registration, accusing it of frequent violations of the law, including through illegal funding actions. The Sor Party qualifies the Government’s request as abuse.