Police start administrative offense procedure against MP Gobzems for unauthorized protest against

  • 2021-08-05
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The State Police has started an administrative offense procedure against opposition Saeima member Aldis Gobzems (Law and Order) over an unauthorized protest against "mandatory vaccination", LETA learned. 

Law enforcement authorities will be assessing the responsibility of the people who staged the unauthorized rally in downtown Riga on Wednesday night. Gobzems is facing the administrative offense procedure as the event's organizer, police spokespeople informed LETA. 

Police will also scrutinize footage of the protest, looking for various offenses. 

On Wednesday night several hundred people gathered outside the Cabinet of Ministers building in Riga to express their dissatisfaction with the bill authorizing employers to sack employees without valid Covid-19 certificates. Earlier on Wednesday, the bill passed the first reading in parliament. 

The crowd gathered after Gobzems issued an appeal, urging people to come to the Saeima building and protest the bill. From the parliament building, the protesters went to the Freedom Monument and then proceeded to the government house. Gobzems who initially participated in the protest later left the gathering. 

The protesters, mostly working-age people, some with Latvia's national flags and signs against vaccination, partly blocked a section of Brivibas Boulevard in front of the government building. 

As reported, the Saeima on Wednesday endorsed draft amendments to the Law on the Management of the Spread of Covid-19 Infection authorizing employers to sack employees without valid Covid-19 certificates.

The bill was supported by 45 MPs, while 20 parliamentarians voted against it.

August 18 was set as the deadline for proposals that can be submitted ahead of the bill's second and final reading in the Saeima.

If the bill passes the final reading in parliament later this month, opposition lawmakers plan to collect the signatures of 34 MPs to suspend the promulgation of the bill and to start a procedure to initiate a referendum on the matter.

As reported, as of October 1, employers in Latvia will be authorized to fire employees that will not have obtained Covid-19 certificates, according to legislative amendments adopted by the government in July.

Authors of the amendments to the Law on the Management of the Spread of Covid-19 Infection indicated that the regulation provides a new approach to curbing the spread of the virus and the protection of each individual's health by obliging state institutions to provide epidemiologically safe services and employers to ensure an epidemiologically safe work environment.

Under the amended law, employers will have to define the jobs and categories of employees for whom Covid-19 certificates will be compulsory and inform employees about these requirements.

The new regulation also makes Covid-19 certificates mandatory for employees of health care institutions, nursing homes and social rehabilitation institutions, as well as teachers.

Persons that will not have obtained a certificate confirming that they have been vaccinated against or have recovered from Covid-19 will be deemed unfit for the jobs involving provision of epidemiologically safe services.

The law, however, does not allow sacking persons that cannot obtain the Covid-19 certificate due to a valid reason. Employers are also not allowed to sack unvaccinated pregnant women and women up to one year after childbirth and during the whole period of breastfeeding (up to two years after childbirth).

At the same time, making vaccination mandatory for certain professions, the state assumes responsibility for the potential harm the vaccine might cause to a person's health. However, the law does not stipulate provisions for compensations people might claim from the state in case vaccination results in damage to their health or life.

The central and local governments will be obliged to ensure that all services that are provided in person are epidemiologically safe. Persons without a Covid-19 certificate will be able to receive services in person only if the services cannot be provided remotely.