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Wednesday 24.04.2019 | Name days: Nameda, Visvaldis, Ritvaldis

Justice Minister: Justice does exist in Latvia, but it's selective

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Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns

«I’m in politics precisely, because as a citizen and a lawyer, I wasn’t satisfied with the influence on the court and political system from people, operating outside these spheres. To my mind, this influence is the reason of long trials in Latvia. Another problem is the lack of specialists, who could solve economic crimes – if politicians would be very interested in this, many cases would have been solved over the past ten years. There are two options: there have either been unprofessional politicians, or they have been interested in having the situation remain the way it was,» said Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns in an interview with the BNN.

«Some criminal cases are launched, but others, of a similar content, are not»

To the mind of the Justice Minister, in Latvia, there is a problem with fair adherence to the court system, as is shown by the situation that some criminal cases are launched, whereas others, of a very similar content, are not.

«It is this influence on the law enforcement bodies from the outside – you can call it political or non-political influence – has created a kind of selective rule of law. As a result, justice does exist, but it applies to some people and doesn’t apply to others.»

Bordāns believes that the current Office of the Prosecutor General does not fulfil its duties efficiently enough. «Both the Moneyval report and the statement by the U.S. finance ministry about money laundering and corruption in Latvia is a direct issue of the investigative authorities.» According to the Justice Minister, the Prosecutor’s Office should play a leading role and bring strategic proposals both to the government and the Ministry of Justice.

Bordāns noted that previously the role of the Prosecutor’s Office was seen as belonging to the executive power branch of Latvia, whereas today it is structurally placed somewhere under the Supreme Court (SC). «The SC, in turn, cannot influence the Prosecutor’s Office. Thus, the Prosecutor’s Office is independent to such an extent that it has difficulties co-operating with the state, for example, in gaining support from the Ministry of Justice both in the aspects of funding and structure,» the politician added.

«Besides it is not clear, whether employees of the Prosecutor’s Office aren’t influenced by anybody from the outside,» said Bordāns. The Latvian Minister of Justice noted that to establish this, an audit is planned not only in the Prosecutor’s Office, but also in other institutions that are subordinate to the Ministry of Justice. An audit, Bordāns finds, would help determine, if the institutions, which are part of the justice system, are working effectively.

Post of Justice Minister – One of Party Favourites

For decades, the post of the Justice Minister has been a source of argument for almost every government, Bordāns believes. He also thinks that a number of justice ministers from some political parties have been more like chessmen in the post. According to Bordāns, it has been a kind of a compromise figure between political parties. The current Justice Minister assumes that some former justice ministers have been working under political influence.

«It’s an unresolved thing in Latvia. Political influence, starting already from the Justice Minister, is what has brought many crises to Latvia.»

Bordāns also told the BNN that in his efforts to increase efficiency in the court system, he also plans to address the way the Latvian Council of Sworn Advocates fulfils its duties, as the Minister sees room for improvement in court proceedings in making them more friendly and effective to the society as a whole.

«Prime Ministers Remember Rule of Law Only in Case of Financial Crisis»

To the mind of Bordāns, there are often heads of the Latvian government, whose thinking is focused on the assertion that the economy the basis of everything. «They remember rule of law only, when there’s a financial crisis, blaming the justice sector for not having dealt with the economic criminals, who have triggered the crisis.»

«If a Prime Minister would have the understanding of how the essential financial and economic issues can be solved by working together with the Justice Minister, this duo could change the situation in Latvia.»

According to Bordāns, with the political experience of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš and a successful conversation, it is possible to increase the understanding, how Latvia is able to strengthen its rule of law with the help of closer co-operation between the Justice Minister and the head of the government.

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  1. Zerry says:

    There are structural problems. For example in state police. If somewhere in Olaine for exsmple, the police is slightly in grey area in performing their duties, the headmaster in Riga is ”out of map” and not able to do anything. And if company register fails, the responsible ministry is totally handless to solve anything. And the public image of country is still sinking, and respect of authorities as well.

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