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President of Latvia brings attention to cyberstalking

On Wednesday, February 3, President Egils Levits discussed online harassment with experts of legal environment and the journalism sector, according to the President's Chancery.

On Wednesday, the President of Latvia held an online conversation on the legal environment for journalists with the executive director of the Baltic Center for Media Excellence Gunta Sloga, Chairman of the Latvian Association of Journalists Arta Ģiga, Head of Latvian Regional Media Association Ivonna Plaude, co-founder of “Re: Baltica”, journalist Inga Spriņģe and lawyers Ieva Andersone and Andris Tauriņš.

There must be a common understanding at all stages of law enforcement – police, prosecutor's office, courts – of how to identify if a journalist is pursued because of their professional duty, said Levits. 

The President said that action preventing journalists from doing their job needed for a democratic society should be identifiable and addressed, regardless of whether attacks on journalists take place in the physical or virtual environment.

The President also stressed the problematic impact of social media on the quality of democracy, the need for public social media regulation at both national and European Union level.

"If the quality of the public debate area is reduced, if the public's readiness to participate in public debates is reduced because this environment is polluted, then democracy can be threatened by social media. It is a very serious problem and action is needed," Levits said.

The President also discussed with journalists' representatives, as well as the lawyers present, the possibility of determining the specific, both criminal and administrative, responsibility for internet harassment. Other legal solutions were also discussed to protect journalists and to strengthen the legal environment for journalists. Levits said that “it is necessary to improve awareness of the State Police, the courts, the prosecutor's office on these topics.”

Questions were also discussed on the situation of regional media, the quality of the media environment and ethics of journalists, criticism of the media.

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