Police propose to introduce administrative liability for sexual harassment

  • 2024-04-08
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The State Police believe that legislative changes are needed to introduce administrative liability for sexual harassment, the State Police told LETA, commenting on Justice Minister Inese Libina-Egnere's (New Unity) idea to criminalize sexual harassment.

The Istanbul Convention stipulates that member states have to take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that any form of unwanted verbal, non‐verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment, is subject to criminal or other legal sanction, the State Police told LETA.

This means that it is up to the countries that have ratified the Istanbul Convention to decide how to punish sexual harassment.

There is a task force at the Justice Ministry that works on improvements to the Criminal Law, which examines proposals for amendments to the Criminal Law made by various institutions and, if necessary, drafts amendments to the Criminal Law and related laws and regulations.

The task force includes specialists from various fields - law enforcement officers, judges, lawyers and representatives of non-governmental organizations. Last week, the task force started work on the justice minister's proposal to criminalize sexual harassment.

According to the State Police, the Labor Law already provides for administrative liability for such offenses in the working environment. What is currently not provided for is a regulatory framework dealing with offenses committed outside the working environment.

The State Police therefore believe that the Law on Administrative Penalties for Offenses in the Field of Administration, Public Order, and Use of the Official Language should be amended by adding a provision that would establish administrative liability for sexual harassment.

The State Police point out that the amendments will have to precisely define such offenses in order to avoid misunderstandings and situations that make it difficult to qualify the offense in order to avoid precedents for defining practically any kind of courtship as sexual harassment.

As reported, the State Police has launched a criminal investigation into alleged sexual harassment of female students by the Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music (JVLMA) academic staff.

Latvia's former culture minister Helena Demakova resigned as Chair of the JVLMA Council in March amid allegations that members of the JVLMA' academic staff have been sexually harassing female students.

So far, one associate professor of the JVLMA has received disciplinary punishment and one has been suspended and banned from contacting his students.