MP suggests criminal liability for calls to ignore COVID-19 rules

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Criminal law could include liability for encouraging the public to ignore COVID-19 restrictions, said Juris Rancāns, Chairman of the Saeima Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee, on Latvian Radio December 1.

He said that the police currently consider calls to ignore COVID-19 restrictions to be hooliganism.

The Saeima Criminal Law Sub-Committee is scheduled to refer to this issue in a few weeks' time. It is intended to involve experts and law enforcement officers – police, prosecutor's office, court representatives.

Rancāns said that there could be a specific rule created, rather than “make do with hooliganism criteria”. 

In his opinion, such a rule could be shaped in the same way as the Criminal Law currently provides for responsibility for genocide calls. “It would be a norm that would provide responsibility simply for the call, without expecting any consequences to come,” Rancāns said.

At the same time, he acknowledged that it was still necessary to assess whether such a special rule would be required.

As regards the control of compliance with the restrictions, Rancāns said that it is currently insufficient. Internal affairs structures do not have sufficient resources for such control. Accordingly, assistance from the Ministry of Defense could be requested in order to control compliance with the restrictions.

“Apparently patrols should be deployed in the streets. There are not enough people within the police, not even in the major cities. Apparently, the  Interior Minister will have to address the Minister for Defense,” he said. In his opinion, the armed forces should provide assistance for a short period if the government decides on very strict rules.

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