Using fake Covid-19 certificate to become a criminal offence in Latvia

On Tuesday, 2 November, Saeima’s Criminal Law Policy Subcommittee passed law amendments that provide criminal liability for the acquisition and use of a fake Covid-19 vaccination, testing or recovery certificate.
It is planned to outline in the Criminal Law a prison sentence of up to one year, community service or a fine for such behaviour.
Amendments in their initial form were proposed by coalition members Andrejs Judins, Juris Jurašs, Juris Pūce, Raivis Dzintars and Anda Čakša. The subcommittee also supported clarifications offered by Minister of Justice Jānis Bordāns and the ministry. The legislative draft will not include the initial proposal on making the use of another person’s Covid-19 certificate a criminal offence.
According to representative of the Ministry of Justice Indra Gratkovska, the work group responsible for amendments to the Criminal Law did not approve the aforementioned measure because theft of Covid-19 certificate is already covered by the law: this crime is punishable with up to one year in prison, community service or fine.
Use of another person’s certificate can be followed up by administrative liability, explains the ministry’s representative.
Read also: Latvian National Health Service annuls a number of Covid-19 certificates
The amendments also provide for relieving people who voluntarily report their wrongdoings with Covid-19 certificates of criminal liability.
Prosecutor General Juris Stukāns and representatives of State Police have also voiced support to the new redaction of amendments.
Saeima deputy Andris Skride had initially submitted proposals for amendments to the Criminal Law. Later, however, he decided to withdraw them.
The annotation of the legislative project explains that the rapid spread of Covid-19 infection has led to the number of deaths from the infection reaching 3 000 in Latvia. Use of vaccination, testing and recovery certificates is the only accessible way of limiting the epidemic and represent the main precondition for save services and ensuring epidemiological safety, which is required to ensure safe function of the national economy and operations of state and municipal institutions.
There are multiple problems observed with efforts to limit the pandemic, parliamentarians say.
Law enforcement authorities have commenced more than a dozen criminal processes involving more than a hundred people. These criminal processes revolve around bribery and acquisition of Covid-19 certificates without vaccination.