Rule of Law in Latvia

Justice

Effective justice systems are essential for upholding the rule of law. Independence, quality and efficiency are the defined parameters of an effective justice system, whatever the model of the national legal system and tradition in which it is anchored. Whilst the organisation of justice in the Member States falls within the competence of the Member States, when they are exercising that competence, Member States must ensure that their national justice systems provide for effective judicial protection. The independence of national courts is fundamental to ensuring such judicial protection. National courts ensure that the rights and obligations provided under EU law are enforced effectively. As re-affirmed by the European Court of Justice, the very existence of effective judicial review to ensure compliance with EU law is of the essence for the rule of law. Effective justice systems are also the basis for mutual trust, which is the bedrock of the common area of freedom, justice and security, an investment friendly environment, the sustainability of long-term growth and the protection of EU financial interests. The European Court of Justice has further clarified the requirements stemming from EU law regarding judicial independence. The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights also provides for key standards to be respected to safeguard judicial independence.

Independence

green
After having been granted additional powers with a view to strengthening judicial independence, the Council for the Judiciary adopted a new procedure for selecting candidate judges.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The role of the judiciary in selecting the candidate for Prosecutor General has been reinforced.
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The level of perceived judicial independence is average.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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The immunity of judges and prosecutors concerning administrative offences has been removed.
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Quality

green
The introduction of a Unified Complaints Register aims at grouping all complaints concerning the justice system.
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The Council for the Judiciary has gained new powers regarding the career of judges and management of the judiciary, but operates with limited resources.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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While legislation was adopted to create a new specialised court, discussions are ongoing on the appropriate ways to increase the quality and efficiency of handling economic and financial crime cases.
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Legal aid in civil cases has been increased.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The Information and Communication System in courts and the Prosecution Office is at an advanced level and is being further developed through the introduction of an e-Case Management System.
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Efficiency

green
The justice system is not facing particular efficiency challenges in civil and commercial cases.
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Anti-corruption

The fight against corruption is essential for maintaining the rule of law. Corruption undermines the functioning of the state and of public authorities at all levels and is a key enabler of organised crime 48 . Effective anti-corruption frameworks, transparency and integrity in the exercise of state power can strengthen legal systems and trust in public authorities. Fighting corruption needs to be based on evidence about its prevalence and form in a given country, the conditions that enable corruption and the legal, institutional and other incentives that can be used to prevent, detect and sanction corruption.

Institutional Framework

yellow
Latvia scores 56/100 on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions index in 2020, ranking it 13th in the EU and 44th globally.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The legislation on criminalisation of corruption and related offences was amended to align the offences of abuse of office, bribery and trading in influence with international standards.
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Prevention

green
An asset disclosure system for public officials and members of Parliament is in place.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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A new law established mechanisms for whistleblowing in public institutions and private entities with more than fifty employees.
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Work is ongoing on legislation to improve the transparency of lobbying and to strengthen the regime to prevent conflict of interests.
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Repressive measures

green
The fight against corruption is shared among several law enforcement bodies.
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Media Freedom

All Member States have legal frameworks in place to protect media freedom and pluralism and EU citizens broadly enjoy high standards of media freedom and pluralism. Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism and the right of access to information are generally enshrined in the Constitution or in secondary law. Media pluralism and media freedom are key enablers for the rule of law, democratic accountability and the fight against corruption. The murders of journalists who were investigating high-level corruption and organised crime allegations have been a wake-up call reminding Member States of the obligation to guarantee an enabling environment for journalists, protect their safety and pro-actively promote media freedom and media pluralism.

Regulatory authorities

green
Legislative amendments aim to strengthen the independence of the National Electronic Mass Media Council.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Transparency of Media

green
The legal framework for media ownership transparency is in place.
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Journalists' Protection

green
Legal guarantees for the activities of journalists are in place.
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Latvia also has a comprehensive framework for the protection of journalists.
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Other Institutional Issues

Institutional checks and balances are at the core of the rule of law. They guarantee the functioning, cooperation and mutual control of State organs so that power is exercised by one state authority with the scrutiny of others. In addition to an effective justice systems, checks and balances rely on a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws, the separation of powers, the constitutional and judicial review of laws, a transparent and high-quality public administration as well as effective independent authorities such as ombudsperson institutions or national human rights institutions.

Preparing and enacting laws

green
The Cabinet of Ministers ensures that the legislative process in the Government is transparent.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The Constitution entrusts the Parliament with the authority to determine that a law is “urgent”.
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In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, Latvia declared a state of emergency.
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Civil Society

green
The Ministry of Culture is working on the new Guidelines for Cohesive and Active Civil Society 2021-2027 and has been consulting stakeholders in public discussions in all regions of Latvia.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Accessibility

green
The constitutional review is carried out by the Constitutional Court.
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Independent Authorities

green
The Ombudsman's Office, which is also an equality body, is in charge of protection of the rights of inhabitants.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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