On Monday, 21 October, the Ministry of Justice initiated to the Council for the Judiciary for the forth time in a row a discussion about cancellation of immunity of judges in administrative violation cases, namely, about amendments to the Law On Judicial Power and Judicial Disciplinary Liability Law, cancelling the immunity of judges in administrative violation cases, at the same time providing that a judge may be called to disciplinary liability, if action disrespectful to the office held by the judge is admitted or gross violation of ethical standards of the judge is committed at the same time of commitment of the administrative violation.
Janis Bordans, the Minister of Justice: “Finally, after the discussions for almost ten years we have got a conceptual support from the Council for the Judiciary for cancellation of the immunity of judges in administrative violation cases and may may move forwards. Independence of the judiciary is a mean for provision of democracy and lawfulness, it cannot be absolute and it is balance by responsibility. We have to develop tools, enabling the judicial power itself to respond to possible harm to the reputation of the judicial power also in cases, when the reputation risk was caused by the way of acting by a judge outside of performance of work duties.”
The issue has been discussed also with the representatives of district (city) courts and regional courts, as well as representatives of the Supreme Court, and the majority has showed support to the recommendation that a judge should be called to administrative liability for the committed administrative violation the same as any other member of society. While, in cases, when circumstances of the violation indicate on the way of acting disrespectful to the office of a judge or gross violation of the ethical standards of judges, professional or disciplinary liability may be applied to the judge in addition.
At the same time it should be indicated that with cancellation of the immunity in the administrative violation cases, also the recommendation made in the Report of the Fourth Evaluation Round of the Group of States Against Corruption of the European Council (GRECO) to Latvia - to cancel the administrative immunity system of judges. GRECO has repeatedly drawn the attention that Latvia has not performed any activities in the context of the recommendation made in the Report, as well as regretted about delay of the responsible authorities to cancel the administrative immunity of judges that would help to dispel the confidence that judges stand above the law and strengthen the trust of citizens to the judicial system.
Latvia is one of the last EU countries, where immunity of judges in administrative violation cases has so far remained.