Prosecutor General calls for religious sect to be shut down

Take note – story published 3 years ago

Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers has submitted a demand to the Vidzeme Regional Court that the First Evangelical Jesus Congregation (Pirmā Evanģēliskā Jēzus draudze) cease operations, according to a press release on March 20.

Kalmeiers came to this decision after evaluating a letter and investigative materials from the State Security Service (VDD). The basis for calling for an end to the organization's activity were the criminal case factors surrounding the death of a 21 year old congregation member and her newborn in May 2019. She didn't receive medical help due to the organization's religious beliefs.

The materials highlighted other restrictions imposed on congregation members, such as not being allowed to see a doctor, work and study, contact family members outside the congregation and others. Members live in closed-off communities where prayer is used in place of qualified medical help, families are created according to instructions and property is sold.

According to the Law On Religious Organisations, the activity of a religious organization can be terminated based on a court decision if it goes against the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia or other laws, or if the organization's activity threatens democracy, public peace and order or the health of others. Kalmeiers said that there were such violations in the materials, which is why he handed in the demand.

Last spring the deceased mother's father, Valdis Simsons, and her husband Renārs Jēgermanis were charged with denying medical care, as they were present during the home birth. They are also part of the congregation and are not medically qualified. The congregation leader's wife Solvita Dāvida has also been charged.

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