Latvia's corruption watchdog wants harsher penalties

Take note – story published 1 year and 3 months ago

Penalties imposed in some corruption cases could be harsher, Jēkabs Straume, chief of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) said in the Saeima Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Commission on February 28, LETA reported.

“I wouldn't want to sound harsh. The judiciary is independent, and judicial decisions are in the hands of the judges, but in some cases, I think there could be stricter penalties," the KNAB chief said.

In an interview with Latvian Radio on March 1, Straume said that corruption is going down but it's not going down fast enough. He said it is "definitely not rising" but there is still a lot of work to do. 

Straume said: “It would appear that preventing someone from entering into corrupt relations would be more likely if these penalties were [higher]. [..] Perhaps an idea could be to apply these additional penalties. An additional sentence, as for example, a ban on certain postitions in public administration would also prevent [corruption]. If one has already been convicted,[..] then perhaps not to allow to continue work in the state administration nd to engage in such corrupt relations."

In analyzing the judgments, commonly a lengthy trial is being taken into account in reducing the sentence. This aspect raises the ever-lasting issue of the deadlines for proceedings.

The KNAB's report last year shows that last year 23 criminal proceedings were initiated or investigated by the Bureau, in which two persons agreed with the prosecutor on a sentence, 31 persons were convicted, and three persons were acquitted. 

Three persons have got community service, 16 persons - a fine of which nine had a fine of less than EUR 5,000, and 13 persons were sentenced to probation, while only one – to prison.

Criminal proceedings are most frequently initiated for criminal offenses such as fraud, bribery, falsification of a document, and embezzlement.

As reported earlier by LSM, Latvia's latest corruption perception index has stayed the same as the previous year, and Latvia is still in the worst position among the Baltic States. Last year Latvia was in 36th place among the countries included in the list, whereas this year it has slipped to 39th. The 2021 ranking was Latvia's highest. Over the past 10 years, Latvia's ranking has improved by ten points.

 

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