June 2021 Monthly News Summary

  • The Ombudsman sent a letter to the Ministry of Welfare inviting them to seek solutions to promote the attractiveness of the work of assistant for disabled person, ensuring the right of service providers to receive motivating remuneration and introducing additional qualification requirements.
  • The Ombudsman explained why the vaccination certificate was not intended for those who had antibodies but had not been tested positive for Covid-19. The Ombudsman explains that valid certificates show that their holders generally have a scientifically justified low risk of infecting others. Unfortunately, current scientific findings and available antibody tests do not prove that an individual is not infectious and cannot transmit the virus. A positive antibody test may be evidence of a past infection, but it does not provide any indication of the timing of the infection, nor can it rule out a current infection.
  • The Ombudsman states that children over the age of 14 do not need parental consent to receive medical treatment, including vaccination. The child can apply to a medical institution and receive information from the medical practitioner that is understandable for his or her age and maturity.
  • The Ombudsman had received submissions from many persons with a request to evaluate the order of the Rector of Rīga Stradiņš University on further organization of the study process in the conditions of Covid-19 infection spread. The submissions express outrage at the imposition of compulsory vaccination. The Ombudsman explained that it is in the interest of the whole society to ensure that such specialists are trained qualitatively and fully. It is in the interest of the state to prevent risks of excessive and uncontrolled deviation of higher education study processes from the content, scope and implementation rules established within the framework of accreditation. Creating an infection-safe environment is important not only in the interests of employees, students and society, but even crucial in the further implementation of several study programs in general.
  • The Ombudsman explains: whether a person can be vaccinated is assessed by a family doctor or a medical practitioner who carries out the vaccination. Accordingly, that medical practitioner may issue a confirmation stating that vaccination is not recommended. While routine tests for work duties may not be performed only by people who have been vaccinated or become ill.
  • The Ombudsman ensures that the one-time benefit of 200 euros will also be paid to service pensioners with disabilities. On June 17, the Saeima (Parliament) adopted the amendments declared urgent in the final reading, and from July 1, the benefit will be received by service pensioners with disabilities who had the relevant status in the period from March 1 to April 7 of this year. The benefit will be paid within one month from the date of the decision to grant a service pension.
  • The Ombudsman calls on the government to eliminate unequal treatment of general education recipients and to provide that expenses for the acquisition of general education programs are also included in the eligible expenses, which are deducted from the amount of annual taxable income. This issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency regarding pre-school education, which is currently not available free of charge to many children.
  • The Ombudsman has received a submission from The Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee of the Saeima (Parliament) on the situation regarding inefficient use of social benefits in a large family with the status of a poor household – adult family members spend most of their income, which consists only of social benefits, on gambling. In such a situation, children's rights are violated, and social benefits are wasted without achieving their intended purpose. In the opinion of the Ombudsman, in such situations it is important to actively act in the interests of children and use the legal protection mechanism in force in the country.
  • The Ombudsman has received a letter from the Welfare Department of the Riga City Council regarding the problems of shelter clients to receive from the bank the benefit provided by the Riga Municipality to ensure the guaranteed minimum income level. It is impossible for these people to receive the benefit provided by the Riga municipality to ensure the guaranteed minimum income level in full, people are left without means of subsistence in the minimum amount. The Ombudsman calls on the responsible authorities to assess this issue and provide a vision for resolving it.
  • Considering the many questions of the population and sometimes incorrect information interpreted in public, the Ombudsman reiterates that vaccination against Covid-19 is voluntary under the current legal framework and cannot be forcibly initiated by the employer. Consequently, employees are free to decide how to deal with this situation, and the employer has no legal basis to force employees to be vaccinated or sanctioned. The only exception where there is a different legal framework is the defence sector.
  • On June 16, the Ombudsman held an online discussion on gender stereotypes and sexism in advertising. The discussion was attended by policy makers and representatives of this field from the Ombudsman's Office, the Consumer Rights Protection Centre, the Latvian Advertising Association, Centre “Marta”, as well as Marita Zitmane, Assistant Professor of Advertising and Gender Research at the University of Latvia.
  • On June 8, the drawing competition organized by the Ombudsman's Office ended, in which every Latvian pupil from the 1st to the 8th grade had the opportunity to send their drawing to the Ombudsman, reflecting the diversity of the Ombudsman's work. 97 drawings from 25 Latvian schools were submitted to the competition. Voting for the best drawing took place on the Ombudsman's Facebook page in three age categories.
  • On 5 June elections of local government were taking place in Latvia. Ombudsman encouraged Latvian society to participate in elections, especially stressing the importance of young (first-time) voters to take a vote.
  • The Ombudsman called on the Cabinet of Ministers not to support such measures to encourage vaccination, which create a different attitude and divide society. After getting acquainted with the set of measures of the Ministry of Health to encourage vaccination, the Ombudsman concludes that they do not observe the principle of justice, as they violate the boundaries of legality and ethics.