The Ministry of Justice in cooperation with the Saeima Legal Affairs Committee and the Norwegian Correctional Services Directorate on 30 September 2013 organized a seminar “Abolition of Administrative Detention in Latvia: Benefits and New Opportunities”.
Its aim was to discuss the draft Administrative Violations Procedure Law developed by the Ministry of Justice prescribing significant reforms in the field of administrative violations, inter alia – exclusion of an administrative sanction – the administrative arrest – from the system of the administrative sanctions.
The seminar was opened by the Speaker of Saeima Solvita Aboltina, the Minister of Justice Janis Bordans and the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway Jan Grevstad. The Speaker of Saeima stressed that
an administrative sanction should be commensurate, unavoidable and conforming to the international practice of law as well as she emphasized that the current procedure not only is expensive to the state but too insufficient role in it is devoted to identification and elimination of violation causes for which in other countries different solutions have been found.
The Minister of Justice pointed at a necessity to elaborate a new and modern administrative violations code as the currently effective one was adopted in 1985, it has 130 amendments and therefore its regulation is outdated and not visually compelling.
The seminar was organized within the framework of the National Bilateral Fund of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 planning period. In the first part formal speeches were given. Head of the Administrative Law Division of the Department of State Rights of Ministry of Justice Anda Smiltēna informed about the necessity to reform the system of administrative sanctions and about the plans on this field. Experts from Norway, the Council of Europe and Latvia delivered lectures. Representatives of the donor state Judge Peter Lauritz Bernhardt and Director General of the Correction Services Department of Norway Marianne Vollan shared their experience. Director General told how the system of sanctions functions in Norway stressing the analysis of arrest and electronic monitoring system in case of an administrative violation. Similarly she outlined negative aspects of the arrest and long-term benefits if applying a civilized and modern system of sanctions, inter alia electronic monitoring. The Council of Europe was represented by David Cupina, Project Manager of Justice and Legal Co-operation Department, Dr. Lorena Bachmaier Winter, Professor of the Complutense University of Madrid and the Council of Europe expert Peter Pavlin. Experts had prepared detailed opinion regarding conformity of specific sections of the draft Administrative Violations Procedure Law to the European standards – the European Convention for the Protection of the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and they gave positive valuation. The lectures delivered Expert of State Law Edvīns Danovskis, Representative of the International Human Rights Organizations, the Cabinet of Ministers Kristīne Līce and Judge of the Riga Regional Court Juris Stukāns.
The second part was devoted to discussion by the field’s experts about the expediency and deficiencies of the administrative arrest. Head of the Administrative Law Division of the Department of State Rights of Ministry of Justice Anda Smiltēna presented three possible options for reform of administrative sanctions for drink-driving - to increase the fines, seizure replaced by measures directed against addictions, or to criminalize drunk driving. The discussion was started and insight was provided by the Member of Parliament Andrejs Judins, Chief of State Police Ints Kuzis, Board Member of the State Joint Stock Company „Ceļu satiksmes drošības direkcija” (Road Traffic Safety Directorate) Janis Golubevs, representative of the General Prosecutor Office, prosecutor Gints Berzins, Director of the Criminal Law Department Indra Gratkovska and the Ministry of the Interior representative Ronalds Petrovskis.
The Ministry of Justice has initiated a significant reform of the administrative sanctions system, within the framework of which it is envisaged to establish a new and efficient policy of administrative sanctions.
It has been concluded in the process of the reform that it is inexpedient to amend the outdated Latvian Administrative Violations Code and hence the Ministry of Justice has developed the new procedural regulation in the field of administrative violations – the draft Administrative Violations Procedure Law which is planned to submit to the Saeima at the beginning of next year. It prescribes amendments to the types of administrative sanctions and proposes an idea of abandoning the administrative arrest. An integral part of the sanctions’ policy is not only punishment of an offender but its education as well achieving prevention of further violations by the offender and other persons. The administrative arrest as deprivation of freedom for a definite period is not deemed the most efficient way to achieve law-abiding behaviour of a person in future, to educate the person and prevent from further law violations. Deprivation of freedom is a repressive compulsory means which in total is aimed at isolation of the offender from the society.
In order to stimulate individuals to become aware of their obligations prescribed by the legal norms and eliminate deficiencies in their action, the Ministry of Justice has set a goal to achieve the reasoned and commensurate procedure of application of sanctions in the future.
- L_Bachmaier_Latvia Opinion Admin Violations.pdf
- P_Pavlin_Latvia_ speech.doc
- Peter Bernhardt_Adjudication of minor violations in Norwegian Law.pptx