Bordāns: the study of “Freedom House” also confirms the urgent need of improvements in strengthening of the rule of law 13.05.2020


 

Assessment of Latvia has been reduced in the latest Freedom House Nations in Transit 2020 report in the area of corruption. Besides, it has been reduced already for the second year in a row and that is the lowest of all seven performance results of Latvia in this report.

The study of the internationally recognized think tank Freedom House (FH) emphasizes that Latvia has lost its assessment due to two certain issues. The fall in the corruption index from 4.75 to 4.50 is related to inefficiency of the Latvian anti-corruption investigation authorities, which is confirmed by their inability to apply sanctions for the oligarch Aivars Lembergs, regardless of the court proceeding pending for ten years. Besides, the money laundering scandal happening last year has highlighted the indisposition of the responsible authorities to work with cross-border corruption cases. In turn, the fall in the legal framework and judicial independence index from 6.50 to 6.25 reflects the unreasonably long court proceedings in the biggest corruption cases and procedural violations in the investigation procedure of the former head of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs.

Janis Bordans, the Minister of Justice: “FH study confirms the opinion expressed previously for several times about the need of change, for example, establishment of a special Court of Economic Cases, as well as approval of the professional, honest and independent prosecutor general. Two weeks ago - on 28 April - the government approved the action plan for introduction of OECD recommendations, prepared by the MoJ. One of the tasks for fulfilment of recommendations is establishment of the Court of Economic Cases, in order to increase the number of convicting judgments in cases of laundering of proceeds of crime. Besides, also the Office of the Prosecutor General will have to ensure priority, timely and active supervision of investigation and criminal prosecution in money laundering cases. OECD recommendations directly affect foreign combating of bribery and laundering of proceeds of crime.”

“These are the issues, where the Ministry of Justice pays extra attention to - talks about that frankly in public space and invites also others to debate. Many considers that the situation is acceptable, but I am glad that also researchers of corruption from international organizations see it and indicate on that,” J.Bordāns emphasizes.

“Currently the establishment of the Court of Economic Cases is deliberately being hindered, but when I sounded the alarm on the prosecutor general, I was criticised from certain representatives of other parties and felt indisposition to respond. In turn, currently the campaign is being knowingly incited to in the public space against the head of the Legal Committee of the Saeima Juris Jurašs with a purpose not to permit selection of a honest and professional prosecutor general for further five years.

Regardless of the fact that Latvia has managed to avoid “the grey list”, foreign experts once more make reproaches towards the investigation authorities in relation to the money laundering and foreign bribery cases, reasonably reminding also about the oligarch Lembergs and the long court proceeding in his case,” the Minister of Justice emphasizes.

 

You may become acquainted with the latest study on the FH website:

https://freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit/2020/dropping-democratic-facade

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

In this study FH analyses obstacles for development of democracy in the countries of transitional period, including the new Member States of the European Union. Every year the FH report provides the assessment of experts on 29 countries in different areas according to multiple issues, including development of the rule of law, power of law and corruption. Country assessments are determined in the range between 1 to 7 (1 - the lower, 7 - the highest). In comparison with 2019, out of seven indexes three have decreased for Latvia, the others have remained stable.

 

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