V v Einwohrnergemeine X und Regierunsgrat des Kantons Bern (BGE/ATF 121 I 367, Swiss Federal Court, of 27 October 1995)

Denial of social security to non-nationals - implied constitutional right to minimum conditions of existence - implied from other constitutional rights and constitutional principles - right to life - right to equality and non-discrimination –principle of human dignity - the equality principle as guaranteeing minimum material justice - rule of law - interdependence - justiciability of claims involving resource allocation - minimum core content - right was violated.

V v Einwohrnergemeine X und Regierunsgrat des Kantons Bern (BGE/ATF 121 I 367, Swiss Federal Court, of 27 October 1995)

Denial of social security to non-nationals - implied constitutional right to minimum conditions of existence - implied from other constitutional rights and constitutional principles - right to life - right to equality and non-discrimination -principle of human dignity- the equality principle as guaranteeing minimum material justice - rule of law - interdependence - justiciability of claims involving resource allocation - minimum core content - right was violated

Three brothers (V) lived in Switzerland from 1980 as recognised refugees. In 1987, they were expelled from Switzerland to Czechoslovakia for criminal offences. In September 1991, they illegally re-entered Switzerland. It was then impossible to re-expel the brothers since the now Czech Republic had rescinded their citizenship. The brothers were denied social support/welfare on the basis of their illegal status. The Court determined there was an implied constitutional right to "conditions minimales d'existence" (basic minimum level of subsistence). The right was a condition for the exercise of other written constitutional rights - the right to life, "as a core content of personal freedom, which would no longer be guaranteed were the most minimum prerequisites for survival not guaranteed", "the constitutional principle of human dignity, which guarantees every person what they can expect from the community because of their humanity"; and the equality principle, "seen as also having the function of guaranteeing minimum material justice". A sufficient societal consensus for such an implication was found, particularly given the constitutional principle of human dignity. The right was not be equated to a minimum level of income but rather what was necessary for a dignified human existence that prevented an undignified beggar's existence. The right can be can be invoked by both Swiss citizens and foreigners since it is a fundamental right based on human rights. The Court found that 'positive' claims upon State expenditure, arising from this right, are justiciable if they are capable of being normatively defined and the judge has the necessary means and procedures to concretise and implement such claims. At the same time, the Court limited the scope of its potential to intervene by acknowledging it lacked the legal competence to set priorities for the allocation of resources. It nevertheless determined it would set aside relevant legislation when the outcome of the legislative framework failed to meet the minimum claim required by constitutional rights. The exclusion of three non-nationals from social welfare legislation was found to be in violation of the right.

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