Ombudsman and the European Commission discuss the rule of law situation in Latvia

Today, on 16 March, Ombudsman Juris Jansons participated in an online meeting with representatives of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers and the Secretariat-General. The European Commission’s annual Rule of Law Report is currently under preparation, and it provides a separate section for examining the situation in each Member State of the European Union. At the meeting, the Ombudsman gave his insight into the situation of the rule of law in Latvia.

The following topics were discussed:

  • The Ombudsman’s activities, independence and resources, including in view of the 2021 amendments to the Ombudsman Law;
  • The Ombudsman’s views on the openness and functioning of civil society;
  • The Ombudsman’s views on media pluralism and freedom, as well as measures to protect journalists.

Regarding the involvement of civil society in legislative processes, the Ombudsman stressed that non-governmental organisations often participate in meetings of both the Sacarry out research into the involvement of civil society in the work of local governments. The Ombudsman also pointed out that, in general, civil society in Latvia is relatively inactive, and he presumes that the lack of activity might be due to the socio-economic situation, as the priority of the population is to take care of basic needs and only then to engage in civil society.

The Ombudsman emphasised that the media environment in Latvia can be considered diverse — both public and commercial media operate, and they are available in different languages. The state is continuously working to ensure that reliable information is available in both Latvian and Russian. In regards to the safety of journalists, the Ombudsman pointed out that journalists face both verbal and physical attacks, as well as unconstructive political criticism of public media.