Reasonable balance between the interests of the individual and of the community must be achieved - ombudsman

  • 2021-08-05
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Ombudsman Juris Jansons has sent a letter to Saeima and the government, pointing out certain aspects of the bill on management of the spread of Covid-19 infection that raise concerns about achieving a reasonable balance between the interests of the individual and of the community as a whole.

The ombudsman states in the letter that he conceptually supports further work on the bill, trusting scientists and experts, and taking into account the current epidemiological situation, the Ombudsman Office's representative Edgars Lakutis told LETA. Vaccination of the population is the only way to effectively reduce the further spread of Covid-19, says Jansons.

The Ombudsman emphasizes that the state has a duty to combat epidemics - to prevent the risk of health system overload, to reduce the risk of economic downturn caused by the need for new restrictions, to provide citizens with epidemiologically safe services at both public and private institutions, and safe and healthy working conditions. This according to the Constitution and international norms binding on Latvia.

In Jansons' opinion, the draft bill, once adopted, will have to be thoroughly explained to the public, in particular the rights and obligations of individuals, so that everyone can adjust their actions accordingly.

The ombudsman does not support the exception provided for in the draft bill, that officials in judicial system will be able to work not only with a valid Covid-19 certificate, but also if their Covid-19 tests are negative. He believes that any exceptions may undermine society's trust in the government's ability to set fair rules in a pandemic that affects everyone equally.

The ombudsman also does not support a provision, according to which Covid-19 certificates will be mandatory for auxiliary personnel in schools but not for auxiliary personnel in health care and social care.

According to Jansons, effective social protection measures must also be introduced to protect the rights of people who choose not to get vaccinated.

As reported, Saeima has 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 as of October 1.

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.