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Monday 18.12.2017 | Name days: Klinta, Kristaps, Kristofers, Krists
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Association: certain municipalities violate the Criminal Law

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUAn absurd situation has formed in Latvia, when society is not properly kept informed of voters’ proposed legislative projects and their signing. Certain municipalities do not provide citizens the right to sign them, thereby violating Section 90 of the Criminal Law, says Open Management Partnership in Latvia representative Ivars Redisons.

At the same time, he notes that officials’ duty to keep citizens informed is detailed in Section 90 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia. Any citizen with voting rights can express their support to legislative drafts initiated by voters in two ways: by voting for them at www.latvija.lv, which is the official communication method with the state, or by signing for them at their local municipal administration.

The majority of Latvian citizens are not even aware of their right to initiate legislative projects. Unlike proposals posted on manabalss.lv, these ones have a degree of legislative pull – the Saeima cannot ignore them. Central Election Commission’s website also has a separate section for voters’ initiatives.

On 8 November 2012, the Saeima approved amendment to the Law on National Referendum, Legislative Initiative and European Citizens’ Initiative that added major changes to the number of signatures that have to be collected for initiatives to be submitted to the parliament. The European Commission puts efforts into making citizens’ initiatives more accessible.

After communicating with municipalities and going through their answers, the association turned with requests to the prosecutor’s office and the ombudsman to check possible violations. «This should not be the case – to have to ask the prosecutor for assistance. In our efforts to communicate and inform municipalities, we did all we could. Out of 119 municipalities approximately half responded to our call with understanding. Unfortunately, there are also municipalities in Latvia in which it is impossible to cast votes for different initiatives. We have also received complaints about this from residents,» says Redisons.

He says the Open Management Partnership in Latvia has asked administrations of all 119 municipalities in Latvia to inform residents of their rights and opportunities to vote in favour of legislative initiatives launched by voters and registered with CEC in accordance with the law.

Representatives of the association also notes that nearly identical responses received from five different administrations in Burtnieki municipality reflect general negligence and lack of desire to work among officials. According to information posted on CEC’s website, Skaidrīte Klāsone is in charge of legislative drafts submitted to the administration of Matisu parish in Burtnieki municipality. However, Klāsone mentioned in her response that ‘the administration is unable to perform activities detailed in the letter’ (not just collect signatures, but also inform residents about the time and place for signing different legislative proposals).

Such a situation has been noted in five administrations in Burtnieki municipality. It is necessary to make certain that some administrators that had personally signed CEC instruction for declaration of signatures, which is their duty, have failed to secure this service. In accordance with Section 90 of the Criminal Law, failure to comply with official duties is a crime.

«This situation is absurd,» the association notes. Representatives note that the majority of citizens are uninformed about voters’ initiatives submitted to CEC. This means collecting the required 155,000 of signatures for legislative drafts to be submitted to the Saeima is nearly impossible. «On top of that, it should be said that the size of financial aid that can be allocated for keeping society informed of specific legislative drafts is limited. There is always the risk of not collecting enough signatures not because the legislative draft is unpopular among residents, but because residents are kept uninformed,» representatives emphasize.

Ref: 225.109.109.5250


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