Move to add exit bans to entry bans

New Interior Ministry proposals would add exit bans to the already-existing power to impose entry bans on suspected radicals, the LETA news service reported Thursday.

In order to prevent residents of Latvia from participating in armed conflicts abroad, the Interior Ministry has drawn up amendments to several laws and regulations, stipulating that the interior minister will have the right to stop such persons from leaving Latvia; if they do travel abroad, they will be held responsible under the criminal law.

The Interior Ministry explains that, taking into consideration the current security situation, several countries have already altered their laws so as to limit the spread of radicalization and extremism. One such measure is limiting persons' rights to travel to European Union member countries, Schengen countries, and third countries.

Applying such restrictions is a last-resort measure, and the Interior Ministry says that such restrictions would be applied to individuals only after thorough analysis.

Thanks to the new provision, the government will be able to restrict individuals from becoming members of unlawful military or armed groups, as well as ensure that such individuals, who may have become radicalized, do not pose threat to public safety upon returning to Latvia.

At the moment, Latvia's laws do not stipulate that residents' right to travel may be restricted in the cause of public and national security interests. Only persons who have the status of a suspect or have been accused in a criminal case may be banned from leaving Latvia, but this is only possible if a criminal case has been opened against them.

According to the Interior Ministry's amendments to the National Security Law, a resident of Latvia, regardless of whether he or she is a citizen or non-citizen, could be prohibited from leaving Latvia if the interior minister decides so.

Based on national security institutions' conclusion that a given resident is planning to participate in activities abroad and, as a result, become radicalized to such extent that he or she could pose threat to national security and public upon returning to Latvia, the interior minister will have the right to ban the person from leaving Latvia for a period of up to three years.

According to the Interior Ministry's amendments to the Criminal Law, persons who violate such a ban could be sentenced to up to three years in prison, community service or a fine.

The amendments are to come into force on January 1, 2017, provided that they are endorsed by Saeima

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