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Sunday 16.12.2018 | Name days: Alvīne

Ministry avoids going against supporting parties; Ventspils City Council’s violations reported to court

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUEnvironment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has no influence at all, and sometimes it seems it has no desire to exercise its rights and perform its duties. This situation most likely appeared because the institution is led by a minister who represents a specific political party.

Because of this little fact, the minister and his institution refuse to oppose municipalities managed by their or at least friendly political party. From this we can conclude that Latvia lacks an effective legal mechanism that would help resolve restriction of rights used against opposition members in Ventspils, says deputy of Ventspils City Council Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis.

Members of Unity’s Saeima faction are of a similar mind. They concluded after meeting with Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Kaspars Gerhards that there is still a lot to do in order to strengthen democracy in municipalities.

«Democracy is a value that cannot be approached on a surface level or selectively. Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry, regardless of opposition deputies’ political beliefs or sympathy, has to ensure compliance with democratic principles in the work performed by municipal administrations and put an end to rules that limit deputies’ rights,» says chairman of Unity’s Saeima faction Hosams Abu Meri.

He says opposition deputies represent a considerable portion of residents. However, after listening to opinions of several municipal deputies, it was concluded that there are municipalities the leaders of which consider themselves kings, ignoring basic principles of democracy and denying deputies the right to represent their voters in an equal manner, adds the deputy.

On Wednesday, 25 April, the Administrative Cases Department of the Supreme Court of Justice will view two claims submitted by Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis  against Ventspils City Council. This need surfaced when the ruling coalition in Ventspils City Council, ignoring the deputy’s many repeated requests, refused to provide him with documents that govern the work of the city council and publish information on ventspils.lv official portal.

According to Kristovskis, EPRDM refused to evaluate and put an end to illegal activities of Ventspils City Council.

It should be mentioned that the rights of opposition deputies in Ventspils City Council have been limited for nearly a year. Kristovskis has said that he is basically prohibited from exercising the right detailed in Article 101 of the Constitution – participate in the work performed by the municipal administration, which is against the duties of a deputy. Municipal deputies have not only rights but also duties. These include participation in meetings of the city council and the institutions to which the deputy is elected. Participation in city council meetings and associated committees means participation in discussion of different matters and decisions. However, in order to make weighted and carefully considered decisions and cast their vote, a deputy has to have full information. This information, however, is systematically denied to opposition members in Ventspils, which results in an absurd situation when rights exist in theory, but it is virtually impossible to perform one’s duties, says Kristovskis.

He concluded that the Supreme Court has already said that violations against him are obvious. Nevertheless, the court will have to assess if the claim submitted by the deputy against Ventspils City Council can be viewed in an administrative process. The fact that the case will be viewed verbally and that the defendants include Ventspils City Council, EPRDM and Association of Local Governments is considered unique and unprecedented in Latvia’s court practice.

In addition, because the Administrative Affairs Department of the Supreme Court has accepted this case for review, it can be concluded that Ventspils City Council has breached the rights provided to opposition deputies by the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, because it is not allowed for opposition deputies to be discriminated against by the majority deputies.

The Supreme Court has sent questions to the plaintiff and defendants. The court invites them to evaluate if minority deputies are provided with equal access to municipal resources and are provided with information and the ability to freely voice their opinions.

«It is definitely necessary to assess the obvious – that Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry’s supervisory function does not contribute to compliance with the law in the work performed by municipal administrations, as it remains impossible to secure controlling functions for minority deputies without turning to court in order to prevent non-democratic and illegal activities resulting in state capture,» says Kristovskis.


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