Saeima sets criminal liability for illegal participation in armed conflicts abroad


On Thursday, 12 February, in the second and final reading, the Saeima adopted amendments to the Criminal Law which envisage criminal liability for illegal participation in an armed conflict abroad, funding an armed conflict, as well as for recruiting, training and deploying for an armed conflict. 

Within the context of the Criminal Law, illegal participation in an armed conflict refers to active participation in an armed conflict outside the territory of Latvia in cases when the conflict undermines the territorial integrity or political independence of another state or violates international law that is binding on Latvia in any other way. Such an activity will be punished by imprisonment for a period of up to ten years, with additional probation monitoring for a period of up to three years. The same punishment is envisaged for funding an armed conflict. 

As was voiced during the meeting of the Legal Affairs Committee, which was responsible for the amendments, this provision will also apply to individuals who are not physically present in the country of conflict but who, for example, conduct from a distance activities that can be considered as active participation in an armed conflict. 

Authors of the amendments indicated that so far, there were no legal grounds to limit freedom of movement of a person and hold him/her accountable for active participation in an armed conflict abroad. Once it has been determined that a person is planning to get involved in such a conflict abroad, it is possible to conduct preventive discussions; however, there are no effective means to prevent the person from leaving the state. 

Participation in an armed conflict abroad, particularly participation in unconventional armed forces or paramilitary groups, poses a significant threat to civilians and international peace in general; that is also attested by the escalation of conflict in Ukraine. The summary of the amendments indicates that prevention of the involvement of Latvian nationals in such conflicts is essential for the sake of Latvia’s external security.

Evika Siliņa, representative of the Ministry of the Interior, informed the members of the Legal Affairs Committee that similar provisions are being introduced in the legislation of other EU member states as well. 
The amendments to the Criminal Law will come into force on the next day after their proclamation. 

Saeima Press Service

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