Criminalization of sexual harassment proposed in Latvia

Sexual harassment should be subject to administrative liability, says the State Police (VP), LETA reported April 8.

Justice Minister Inese Lībiņa-Egnere has come up with the idea to criminalize sexual harassment, and a working group has started work on the minister's task to assess the need to introduce such legislation.

The State Police fully agree that sexual harassment is punishable, adding that Article 40 of the Istanbul Convention does not oblige states to criminalize sexual harassment but rather gives them the discretion to decide for themselves what liability to impose on the perpetrator.

The Labor Law provides for administrative liability for such offenses in the working environment. A regulatory framework for offenses outside the working environment does not exist.

According to the police, the Law on Administrative Penalties for Offences in the Field of Administration, Public Order and Use of the State Language should be amended by adding a provision that would establish administrative liability for sexual harassment.

The State Police drew attention to the need to define the act precisely in order to avoid misunderstandings and situations that make it difficult to qualify the offense, for example, to avoid the precedent that practically any kind of courtship could be defined as sexual harassment, which would be punishable by a fine.

The prosecutor's office is not opposed to criminalizing sexual harassment, but stresses that the law in such cases must be very clear on exactly what actions are not allowed, Prosecutor General Juris Stukāns recently told LETA.

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