European Commission notes political attacks on Latvian journalists

The European Commission published its 2021 Rule of Law report July 20, with the chapter on Latvia summarising efforts at ongoing judicial reforms and raising several points of concern including personal online attacks against journalists by politicians.

“Although a comprehensive framework for the protection of journalists and the right to access information is in place, it appears that journalists continue to face personal attacks online, often from politicians,” said the report.

“At the end of 2020 and in 2021, the Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists did not register any alerts concerning Latvia. Nevertheless, it appears that journalists continue to face attacks in the online environment, often from politicians and political communication companies,” the European Commission report said.

The availability of information on media ownership to the public “raises concerns” too, the report says.

In addition, political lobbying in Latvia remains completely unrestricted, the report points out, saying:

“Lobbying remains unregulated, while the draft legislation continues to be discussed by the Parliament. To date, there are no rules on lobbying transparency and only a few cases of voluntary publication of meetings between public representatives and lobbyists have been reported.”

There are some words of praise for the high level of digitisation within the legal system and ongoing efforts to improve the legal education of judges.

However, in most institutions with a rule of law function, funding and manpower remain concerns, along with clarity on who is responsible for what regarding corruption cases.

“The General Prosecutor’s Office supervises pretrial investigations of corruption-related offences conducted by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau. Since the beginning of 2021, the Prosecutor’s Office has dealt with 204 cases, and EUR 7 million of illicit funds were confiscated,” the report noted.

As regards COVID-19, the report also notes a tendency by the executive to temporarily sidestep Saeima when urgent implementation of epidemiological and related measures are deemed necessary.

“The Parliament could only approve or reject  ex post  the Government measures that mostly had already entered into force under the state of emergency and could not amend them,” the report stated.

The full chapter on Latvia is available to  download online   and is also atached to this story for your convenience.

LSM.LV

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