On Wednesday, March 4, Minister of Justice Jānis Bordāns met with the President of Latvia Egils Levits to inform him of the progress made in improving the efficiency of the justice system. Particular attention has been paid to tackle the negative effects of long court proceedings.
Minister Bordāns stressed that the Ministry of Justice (MJ) has been working intensively to prepare solutions to improve the circumstances in the justice system In the first year the ministry`s working group has submitted more than 40 substantive proposals to Parliament in procedural laws to promote the speed and effectiveness of judicial proceedings. Intensive work is ongoing to launch a specialized Economic Affairs Court at the beginning of 2021.
The MJ initiated that the State Audit Office should also carry out a comprehensive audit to define the factors delaying effective criminal proceedings. Bordāns welcomes the decision of the Justice Council to form a task force under the supervision of the Supreme Court, providing for the involvement of judges in identifying and preventing the conditions that delay the court proceedings.
Speaking about government cooperation, Brodāns admits, “I can finally see that the Prime Minister is getting involved in the reform of the justice system. I believe we will succeed together.”
New amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law already submitted to the Parliament include:
- The court has the right to limit the duration of the debate speech and to carry on with court proceedings without the participation of the accused.
- A person entitled to the defence shall be required to provide true evidence when exercising the right to testify, thereby preventing the provision of knowingly false evidence and facilitating the faster conduct of criminal proceedings.
- The defence has an obligation to present a list of the persons to be summoned to the hearing in good time.
- Increased liability of lawyers for participation in the hearing, lawyers will be obligated to ensure the participation of another lawyer if they cannot participate.
- Improved application of the agreement process as well as improved application of coercive measures to legal persons in order to make it more effective in cross-border crime.