On 2 May, President of Latvia Egils Levits met with Prosecutor General Juris Stukāns and State Police Chief Armands Ruks to discuss how to improve the work of law enforcement institutions in ensuring the protection of victims against violence.
The President of Latvia emphasized that the State was fully responsible for the murder of the woman in Jēkabpils. The woman did everything to save her life. She repeatedly turned to law enforcement authorities for protection. E. Levits pointed out that the police and the prosecutor's office had the necessary information but failed to do everything possible to protect her.
He stressed that identifying one “responsible person” would not, however, in itself change the situation: “At present, the means available to the police, the prosecutor's office, and the court to prevent such situations, when a person is threatened, are too weak. Even if the police had acted appropriately, the tragedy would very likely still not have been averted”.
The President of Latvia pointed out that the Criminal Code's protection against threats and harassment (including on the internet) is currently too weak. In practice, it largely fails. This, in turn, contradicts the State's duty to protect people under the Constitution.
Therefore, President Levits believes that systemic changes in legislation are necessary. The legal powers of law enforcement authorities must be extended so that they can take action not only against individual episodes of violence, but the behaviour of the abuser as a whole. This should also be punished more severely.
There should also be inter-institutional cooperation, training for law enforcement officers and a change in attitudes to identify and prevent violence against women and domestic violence as a matter of urgency.
"Criminal justice policy should be focused first and foremost on protecting the victim, not on extending the rights of the perpetrator. The police need the tools and the power to provide this protection," said E. Levits.
The President calls on the legislator to introduce a new security measure - electronic monitoring. This could be particularly effective in such cases of personal threat.
He also calls on the legislator to reconsider the preventive isolation of the abuser if he systematically violates the prohibition to approach the person he threatens.
E. Levits also agrees with the proposal of the Ministry of Justice to establish in the Criminal Code that criminal proceedings for violence within the circle of intimates should be dealt with as a matter of priority.