Latvian police finds new cases of aggression towards doctors, politicians and journalists

This year Latvia’s State Police registered 19 cases of different kinds of aggression towards medical workers, officials and journalists, as reported by Vice-Chief of State Police Main Public Order Department Ansis Pumpurs at a meeting of Saeima’s Criminal Law Policy Subcommittee on Tuesday, 9 November.
Among the acts of aggression are defamation and expression of threats.
In nine cases aggression was aimed towards medical workers. Most were registered in autumn, when the government tightened Covid-19 restrictions. Police commenced criminal processes in three cases and in the rest the situation either resolved itself or the police commenced administrative processes.
This year police also registered cases when threats were addressed to court bailiffs.
In another three cases threats were addressed to journalist Inga Spriņģe and workers of TVNet and TV24. These cases are related to one Jānis Sondors, who was recently detained by the police for aggressive behaviour towards Saeima deputy Juris Pūce.
Additionally, this year Latvia’s State Police registered five cases when people made threats, defamed or committed hooliganism towards politicians or high-ranking officials.
In October Chief of State Police Armands Ruks released a statement. In it he outlined, among other things, that the police will crack down on hateful comments, harassment, persecution and threats towards medical workers, police officers and other service workers, security guards, journalists and high-ranking officials.
Members of the subcommittee had active discussions about potential improvements to laws to make it easier to prosecute aggressors. The head of the subcommittee Andrejs Judins said aggression is present both in everyday lives and on the internet. He suggested studying ways to prevent it.
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Pumpurs said there is a lot of aggression on the internet, especially towards officials and politicians.
Warnings and fines are not always enough, because there is a category of perpetrators that simply ignore penalties. Additionally, it is sometimes difficult for court bailiffs to enforce fines.
The problem is that police often have a difficult time enforcing administrative penalties on people for their aggressive behaviour.
«If the perpetrator commits actions that are not covered by the Criminal Law, we will not be able to use administrative measures, because administrative responsibility covers small scale hooliganism, light injuries and resisting police,» said Pumpurs.
At the same time, he did not deny there are cases when police lack the understanding of regulations – this internal problem needs to be resolved.
«There are many different laws, and our officers are not always well-versed in them,» says the police representative.
Chief Inspector of State Police Main Criminal Police Office Antra Stradiņa claims sections of the Criminal Law regarding murder threats or harassment are applicable if a person has reasons to be afraid.
«A phrase spoken in a fit of anger does not mean the police will have the person arrested immediately. The police have to prove the murder threat is real,» explains Stradiņa.
«We have to investigate the subjective side of things. It is during a criminal process we are able to determine a subjective side to each individual situation. If a person is unhappy with the decision to end a criminal procedure, there is the option to send a complaint to the office of the prosecutor,» added Stradiņa.
Indra Gratkovska, director of Criminal Law Department of the Ministry of Justice, said so far the ministry has not received any information regarding difficulties with application of regulations listed in the Criminal Law. The law has multiple sections that can be used in different situations depending on circumstances.
«We already have regulations, we just need to apply them properly,» said Gratkovska, adding that any section of the Criminal Law is applicable depending on the situation and violation committed.
Prosecutor General Juris Stukāns mentioned at the meeting of the subcommittee that deputies should be more active and make it clear what penalties people can expect if they commit a crime.