The Ministry of Justice in cooperation with the Latvian Council of Sworn Advocates and sworn advocates improve the provision of legal representation in cases of children abduction 10.08.2017
In order to facilitate the application of the Hague Convention (hereinafter - the Convention) in Latvia, on Thursday, 10 August, Raivis Kronbergs, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, signed cooperation documents with Jānis Rozenbergs, the Chairman of the Latvian Council of Sworn Advocates, as well as six sworn advocates.
State Secretary Raivis Kronbergs, emphasizing the contribution of the Latvian Council of Sworn Advocates and sworn advocates for protection of the rights of children, mentions: “Due to the approaching Latvia’s centenary we turn a new page for a significant society that will further on significantly help to protect the interests and safety of the smallest representative of our society. Children in our future, besides protection of the rights of the children is one of the priorities of the Ministry of Justice. Also advocates play the significant role in the implementation of this priority, therefore the Ministry of Justice highly appreciates the commitment of the Latvian Council of Sworn Advocates and sworn advocates, facilitating the fulfilment of international agreements binding to the Republic of Latvia, including by offering broader possibilities of high quality legal support to the persons submitting an application of the foreign country.”
It is planned that as of 1 September 2017 sworn advocates will provide free of charge (pro bono) legal representation to the persons submitting an application, while living abroad, in the proceedings of child abduction and cases of access rights.
Dr. iur. Jāni Rozenbergs, the Chairman of the Latvian Council of Sworn Advocates emphasizes: “Each tenth civil matters in a court is related to the rights of the child, besides they become even more complicated. For example, parents quite often reside in different countries and one takes the child to a foreign country, without informing the other on that. Such a non-coordinated action, when the child is under the joint custody, may be treated as child abduction for the purpose of civil law. In such emotionally severe conflicts the advocate is the one, to whom the interests of the child is a priority - his or her wishes and rights to maintain relationship with both parents. Therefore further on the Latvian advocates will provide legal aid free of charge in the matters of civil abduction in order the disputes would be settle as soon as possible, in a more constructive manner and less traumatic manner for the child through the support of such professional mediators.”
So far, upon receipt of the request for return of a child from Latvia or regarding provision with access rights with a child living in Latvia, within the framework of the Convention the Ministry of Justice could appoint the representative of only one law office. When assessing the possibilities to improve the application of the Convention in Latvia, the Ministry of Justice consulted with the Permanent Bureau of Hague Conference on Private International Law as well as the Latvian Council of Sworn Advocates for the purpose to optimise and improve the body of legal representation in Latvia. During negotiations several advocates showed an intention to get involved in the provision of legal aid free of charge in the matters of international child abduction and access.
The Ministry of Justice would like to thank also the lawyer Sintija Daugule for so far excellently provided function of representation in the civil matters of child abduction.
Legal aid free of charge will be provided by: the sworn advocate Jeļena Averinska, the sworn advocate Jānis Davidovičs, the sworn advocate Baiba Didrihsone, the sworn advocate Antra Kalēja, the sworn advocate Imants Muižnieks and the sworn advocate Māris Vainovskis.
The basic purpose of the Convention is to secure the prompt return of a child wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State of the Convention; and to ensure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in the other Contracting States.
On average approximately 13 cases on return of children to their place of residence from Latvia and 2 cases on implementation of the rights of access with a child residing in Latvia are initiated per year. For example, 13 requests were received on return of unlawfully removed to Latvia or retained in Latvia children to the country of their habitual residence in 2013 and 2014, in 2015 - 14 such requests, but in 2016 - 12 requested, and by 10 August 2017 - 6 requests.