Latvia

   

Executive Accountability

#36
Key Findings
With notable oversight weaknesses, Latvia falls into the bottom ranks (rank 36) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.2 points relative to its 2014 level.

Parliamentarians’ resources are very limited, despite adequate formal oversight powers. A parliamentary research unit was recently created, but it cannot respond to ongoing legislative work. The independent audit office lacks the power to audit the parliament, but the extra-parliamentary ombuds office has been increasingly active. The data inspectorate is subordinate to the Ministry of Justice.

Citizens are slow to engage with the political process, with few belonging to political parties. Few of the main media brands offer high-quality analysis, and some allow content to be influenced by commercial or political advertisers. The public media produce strong investigative work. The proliferation of pro-Russian narratives in the media and online has become a challenge.

Economic associations are sophisticated, influencing policy through the Tripartite Council. Non-economic NGOs have joined together to seek a greater voice in the government’s budget-planning process.

Citizens’ Participatory Competence

#31

To what extent are citizens informed of public policies?

10
 9

Most citizens are well-informed of a broad range of public policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many citizens are well-informed of individual public policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few citizens are well-informed of public policies; most citizens have only a rudimental knowledge of public policies.
 2
 1

Most citizens are not aware of public policies.
Political Knowledge
6
There is no local survey data indicating the extent to which citizens are informed of government policymaking decisions. Data from a study on NGO participation in policy planning, commissioned by the government office in 2012, show that NGOs (which are predisposed to participation) are able to: obtain the information and knowledge required to understand the motives, objectives, effects and implications of policy proposals; and make their opinions known through the existing system. NGOs note that information is available to those who seek it out, but is not easily accessible to the general public.

According to USAID’s 2015 CSO Sustainability Index for Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia, the government has a positive attitude toward NGOs and NGOs provide significant input to the policymaking process. As of November 2016, there were 21,628 registered NGOs in Latvia. In 2015, NGOs participated in roughly 1,400 working groups. Latvia scored 2.6 and ranked 3 out of 29 countries in the Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, behind Estonia and Poland and equal to the Czech Republic. In 2016, this score dropped to 2.5.

NGOs have a formal consultation mechanism with the government, the NGO-Council of Ministers Cooperation Council. However, NGOs are critical of this mechanism. In 2017, a group of NGOs submitted a letter asking the government to reexamine the budget process from the point of view of transparency, participation and principles of good governance. The NGOs requested a larger role in the budget planning process, similar to that offered to other groups, such as organizations included in the National Tripartite Cooperation Council (NTSP).

Individuals are slow to engage with the political process. According to a 2015 survey, 50% of respondents claim that they would be able to protect their rights and interests through government or municipal institutions, while 38% claimed they could not. However, 54% of respondents stated that they did not believe that they could influence politics through civic engagement. The most popular methods of participation are online commentary (16%); signing petitions (12%); contacting politicians or state officials (11%); boycotting products, services, or organizations (7%); and participating in an NGO (6%). In addition, 60% of respondents stated that referendums were a good method for deciding important political issues. The Enterprise Register estimates that just 25,000 individuals or 1.2% of the population are members of a political party. This is the lowest level of party membership in the European Union.

The rise of social media and the increasing use of the internet have placed new tools at the disposal of citizens wishing to participate in the political process. An e-petition tool, manabalss.lv, lets any group of 10,000 or more citizens place issues on the parliamentary agenda. The law has been positively affected by 67.5% of the submitted initiatives. In 2018, a total of 153 initiatives were submitted to the platform and 238,812 people signed the initiatives, up from 91,891 signatures in 2015. The parliament is increasingly responsive to these initiatives.

An initially successful social-media style website that enabled citizens to engage in direct communication with members of parliament was shut down in 2014 due to a lack of financing.

Citations:
1. Latvian Facts (2011), Public Opinion on the NGO Sector in Latvia, p.7, Available at (in Latvian): http://www.nvo.lv/site/uploads/veci e_faili/Zinojums_lv_27_04_2011.pdf, Last assessed: 02.01.2019

2. Baltic News Service (2011), Latvian Political Parties and Associations Estimated to have around 25 thousand Members, Article available at (in Latvian): http://www.delfi.lv/news/national/p olitics/latvija-partijas-un-politis kajas-apvienibas-varetu-but-apmeram -25-tukstosi-cilveku.d?id=39523183, Last assessed: 02.01.2019

3. State Chancellery (2013) Unpublished Data on NGO involvement in the Mechanisms of the Cabinet Decision-Making Process

4. Latvian Civic Alliance (2014), Overview of the NGO Sector in Latvia 2015. Available at: http://www.nvo.lv/site/attachments/29/04/2016/NVO_PARSKATS-2015-23.04.pdf, Last assessed: 02.01.2019

5. Research center SKDS, Survey on central government’s image, Available at (in Latvian): https://mk.gov.lv/sites/default/files/attachments/atskaite_petijuma_zinojums_vk_112016.pdf, Last assessed 02.01.2019

6. ManaBalss (2018), Progress data, Available at: https://manabalss.lv/page/progress, Last assessed: 02.01.2019

Does the government publish data and information in a way that strengthens citizens’ capacity to hold the government accountable?

10
 9

The government publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
 8
 7
 6


The government most of the time publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
 5
 4
 3


The government publishes data in a limited and not timely or user-friendly way.
 2
 1

The government publishes (almost) no relevant data.
Open Government
6
Latvia joined the Open Government Partnership in 2011, with the State Chancellery as the current assigned contact point.
The government has made efforts to ensure Latvia complies with the partnership requirements. Three National Action Plans have been published since joining the partnership, monitoring the progress and proposing future improvements in the field of open government.

Following these recommendations, an online platform was set up in 2017 (https://data.gov.lv) to serve as a single point of public access to government data. At the time of writing, the portal contained 246 datasets from 49 data publishers (compared to 33 datasets from 13 data publishers in 2017). However, it is not mandatory for government data to be published on the platform. Instead, data is only published on a voluntary basis. The Latvian Open Data Portal is linked with the European Data Portal, which means that all data published is also available on the European Data Portal. Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance now publishes basic information about the government’s budget positions on an interactive platform, which details the spending categories to which funds are allocated and the amount that is spent (in absolute and percentage terms).

In 2015, Latvia ranked 31 in the Global Open Data Index. Open public sector data in Latvia is evaluated as meeting the basic criteria of the Open Data Index, but fails when it comes to more advanced criteria, especially when it comes to usability of the data (e.g., publishing documents in a machine-readable format, offering bulk-download options and using open license statements). Importantly, although the law (updated in 2018) regulates what information should be published online by governmental institutions, no unified approach is used when it comes to structuring the information, which often makes locating information difficult.

Citations:
1. State Chancellery (2017), National Action Plan 2017-2019, Available at: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Latvia_National-Action-Plan_2017-2019_LAT.pdf

2. Latvian Open Data Portal, Available at: https://data.gov.lv/lv

3. Ministry of Finance, Interactive Budget (2018), Available at: http://www.fm.gov.lv/valstsbudzets, Last assessed: 06.01.2019

4. Open Government Partnership (2015-2018), Timeline: Latvia, Available at: https://www.mk.gov.lv/sites/default/files/editor/ogp_lat_timeline.pdf, Last assessed: 06.01.2019

Legislative Actors’ Resources

#34

Do members of parliament have adequate personnel and structural resources to monitor government activity effectively?

10
 9

The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for monitoring all government activity effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for monitoring a government’s major activities.
 5
 4
 3


The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for selectively monitoring some government activities.
 2
 1

The resources provided to the members of parliament are not suited for any effective monitoring of the government.
Parliamentary Resources
3
Parliament does not have adequate resources to monitor government activity effectively. Some limited expertise is available from parliamentary committee, legal office, personal administrative support and parliamentary library staff. However, this has not allowed for substantive policy analysis or the independent production of information. Until 2017, the Latvian parliament was the only legislature in the Baltic Sea region with no institutional research capacity.

In 2017, the parliament created a new parliamentary research unit. As of May 2017, it is in its start-up phase, with a director and staff of three. The 2018 budget for the unit is expected to include resources for outsourcing expertise. To date the unit has produced four studies. Their mandate for further research studies to be done in 2018 was approved by the presidium of the parliament in November 2017. The planned work is to be produced on a medium- to long-term schedule (i.e., issues to be addressed are broad and overarching, not narrow and tied to legislative work in progress). The mandate approved for the research unit does not, at present, enable the research unit to be responsive to in progress legislative work.

Are parliamentary committees able to ask for government documents?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may ask for most or all government documents; they are normally delivered in full and within an appropriate time frame.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to ask for government documents are slightly limited; some important documents are not delivered or are delivered incomplete or arrive too late to enable the committee to react appropriately.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to ask for government documents are considerably limited; most important documents are not delivered or delivered incomplete or arrive too late to enable the committee to react appropriately.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not request government documents.
Obtaining Documents
10
The parliament has the right to obtain documents from the government. No problems have been observed in the exercise of this right.

Are parliamentary committees able to summon ministers for hearings?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may summon ministers. Ministers regularly follow invitations and are obliged to answer questions.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon ministers are slightly limited; ministers occasionally refuse to follow invitations or to answer questions.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon ministers are considerably limited; ministers frequently refuse to follow invitations or to answer questions.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not summon ministers.
Summoning Ministers
10
Members of parliament have the right to pose questions to ministers and summon them to answer questions before parliament. At least five signatories are required for such a request. Ministers generally comply with parliamentary requests.

Parliamentary committees have the right to request information from ministries as well as to summon ministers to committee meetings.

Are parliamentary committees able to summon experts for committee meetings?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may summon experts.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon experts are slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon experts are considerably limited.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not summon experts.
Summoning Experts
7
Parliamentary committees are able to invite experts to committee meetings but have no power to make attendance mandatory. The parliament largely relies on the pro bono participation of experts to compensate for its own lack of substantive capacities and resources. However, committee chairs do have some discretion to pay modest honorariums to external experts.

Are the task areas and structures of parliamentary committees suited to monitor ministries effectively?

10
 9

The match between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are well-suited to the effective monitoring of ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are largely suited to the monitoring ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are partially suited to the monitoring of ministries.
 2
 1

The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are not at all suited to the monitoring of ministries.
Task Area Congruence
4
The task areas of the parliamentary committees poorly match the task areas of the ministries. Only the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice have an equivalent parliamentary committee. These committees being the Budget and Finance Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee of Justice. While the Ministry of Agriculture reports to only a single committee, this committee oversees three other ministries. In all other cases, ministries report to multiple committees and committees oversee multiple ministries’ task areas.

Citations:
1. List of Parliamentary Committees: https://titania.saeima.lv/Personal/Deputati/Saeima13_DepWeb_Public.nsf/structureview?readform&type=3&lang=LV

2. Composition of the Cabinet of Ministers: https://www.mk.gov.lv/en/amatpersonas

Media

#22

To what extent do media in your country analyze the rationale and impact of public policies?

10
 9

A clear majority of mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing the rationale and impact of public policies.
 8
 7
 6


About one-half of the mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing the rationale and impact of public policies. The rest produces a mix of infotainment and quality information content.
 5
 4
 3


A clear minority of mass media brands focuses on high-quality information content analyzing public policies. Several mass media brands produce superficial infotainment content only.
 2
 1

All mass media brands are dominated by superficial infotainment content.
Media Reporting
5
A minority of the ten most important mass-media brands in Latvia provide high-quality information. The majority of reporting is a mix of quality information and infotainment programs. The financial constraints on the media brought about by audience and advertising shifts to internet-based sources and limited budgets for public broadcasting have had a negative effect on the provision of high-quality content. Additional challenges include the proliferation of pro-Russian narratives in the media, broadcasted by Russia as well as Latvian outlets and shared through social networks.

Nevertheless, some media players have succeeded in meeting a high standard of quality. The weekly magazine IR, established in 2010, provides in-depth information on government policy plans as well as publishes leaked information of broad political significance. Investigative reporting on public and private television stations fulfills a watchdog function. In 2017, a concerted effort of investigative journalism by the public broadcaster put the treatment of children in institutions on the political agenda. Sustained analytical focus on issues of public concern is provided by the non-profit investigative-journalism center Re:Baltica, founded in August 2011. It focuses on issues such as the social costs of economic austerity, consumer protection and drug-money flows. By cooperating with the mainstream media, it has succeeded in moving these issues onto the public agenda.

Economic constraints on the media have exacerbated the media’s tendency to allow financial pressures to influence content. Research indicates that hidden commercial advertising can be arranged in any media channel in Latvia. Hidden political advertising is denied by the Latvian-language media, but acknowledged by the Russian-language media.

New concerns have arisen about the influence of Russia’s “hybrid warfare” on the media environment in Latvia, especially for Russian-language media consumers. Proposals to expand the public-broadcasting services to include Russian-language programming have stalled, however.

Data from 2017 show that trust in media stands at 50% (6% completely trust, 44% mostly trust). This level of trust is slightly less than when information is obtained through social networks (e.g., friends and family). The most trusted media sources in Latvia are internet news site www.delfi.lv (cited by 18% as the most trusted), followed by the public broadcasters (11% for LTV, 7% for LR) and another internet site www.tvnet.lv (8%).

The key challenge in the near future is likely to be the successful implementation of media policy (e.g., a more robust implementation of the current Mass Media Policy Guidelines of Latvia 2016 – 2020).

Citations:
1. Rožukalne A. (2010), Research Paper on Hidden Advertising Issues in the Media, Available at (in Latvian): http://politika.lv/article_files/21 17/original/slepta_reklama_mediju_p rakse.pdf? 1343212009, Last assessed: 20.05.2013

2. Ministry of Culture (2017). Media Literacy. Available at (in Latvian): https://www.km.gov.lv/uploads/ckeditor/files/mediju_politika/petijumi/Medijpratiba_petijuma%20rezultati_Latvijas%20Fakti_18_07_2017.pdf

3. Cabinet of Ministers (2016). Mass Media Policy Guidelines of Latvia 2016–2020. Available at: https://likumi.lv/ta/en/en/id/286455, Last assessed: 02.01.2019

4. Vita Zelce (2018), The Diversity of the Media Environment in Latvia (in Latvian, with and annotation in English), Available at: https://www.km.gov.lv/uploads/ckeditor/files/mediju_politika/petijumi/Latvijas-mediju-vides-daudzveidiba-small.pdf, Last assessed: 05.01.2019

Parties and Interest Associations

#26

How inclusive and open are the major parties in their internal decision-making processes?

10
 9

The party allows all party members and supporters to participate in its decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are open.
 8
 7
 6


The party restricts decision-making to party members. In most cases, all party members have the opportunity to participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and issue agendas are rather open.
 5
 4
 3


The party restricts decision-making to party members. In most cases, a number of elected delegates participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and issue agendas are largely controlled by the party leadership.
 2
 1

A number of party leaders participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and issue agendas are fully controlled and drafted by the party leadership.
Intra-party Decision-Making
5
The Law on Political Parties mandates that certain political-party decisions be made in the context of full-membership meetings or by elected officials of the parties. These include party officer elections as well as decisions on party governing statutes and party programs. Other decisions must be taken in accordance with party statutes, but are not subject to regulation. Regulations allow for little input by party members. By comparison, commercial law provides more rights to shareholders than rights accorded to party members in their own party.

The Harmony Party (Saskaņas centrs, SC) is an alliance of a number of parties. Decision-making processes are different for national and municipal (Riga) policies. Candidates for national or municipal elections are selected by the party leadership. Decision-making at both the national and municipal levels is opaque. The balance of power within the SC alliance parties varies between central and local governments.

Decision-making within the Unity Party (Vienotība, V) centers in the organization’s board of directors, which engages closely with its parliamentary faction leadership and government representatives. There is active internal debate on policy issues, as evidenced by press leaks detailing internal party correspondence and publicly visible debates on issues. Local chapters have considerable autonomy in personnel choices and in taking positions on local issues. There is also, however, evidence of party members’ initiatives being suppressed or ignored by the board of directors. In early 2017, a group of disgruntled Vienotība members of parliament left Vienotība and joined an effort to establish a new party in advance of the 2018 elections. Vienotība has experienced upheaval, with a change in party leadership, several high-ranking party leaders either quitting the party or being expelled.

The Union of Greens and Farmers (Zalo un Zemnieku Savienība, ZZS) is an alliance of two major parties and one minor one. The alliance parties operate together at the national level, but can pursue separate activities and agendas at the municipal level. Party decision-making resides with the board. ZZS is perceived to be beholden to one of Latvia’s oligarchs, and decisions on candidates and issues often reflect this. Prior to the 2014 elections there was public evidence of internal debate within the alliance about a suitable prime-ministerial candidate.

Two previously independent parties merged to form the National Union (Nacionālā Apvienība, NA). While decision-making resides with elected party officials, an internal diversity of opinion on important issues is visible to the public. The Union’s parliamentary faction plays the role of agenda-setter and parliamentarians sometimes pursue individual policy agendas despite official party positions.

Three new parties emerged in anticipation of the parliamentary election in 2018 and gained substantial support. These were the nationalist-conservative New Conservative Party (Jauna Konservativa Partija, JKP), the center-left-liberal Development/For! (Attīstībai/PAR, AP) and the populist “Who Owns the State?” (Kam pieder valsts?, KPV.LV). In their statutes, all three parties indicate a decision-making procedure in which power lies with the party’s general assembly and is directed by the board of the party. In the case of JKP, there is also an intermediate body of party council. It remains to be seen how these guidelines will operate now that the parties have been elected to parliament.

To what extent are economic interest associations (e.g., employers, industry, labor) capable of formulating relevant policies?

10
 9

Most interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 2
 1

Most interest associations are not capable of formulating relevant policies.
Association Competence (Employers & Unions)
8
The National Tripartite Cooperation Council (Nacionālā trīspusējās sadarbības padome, NTSP), which links employers’ associations, business associations and trade unions, provides a good example of effective association involvement in policy formulation. The members of the NTSP are all capable of proposing concrete measures, and work with academic figures in order to ensure quality inputs into the policy dialog.

Employers’ and business associations are continually engaged with the policy process on specific issues such as energy policy, formulation of the national development plan and tax policy. The Latvian Chamber of Commerce (LTRK) engages in ongoing dialog with the government, and along with the slightly less influential Employers’ Confederation of Latvia (LDDK), forms a part of the tripartite council.

The Foreign Investors’ Council (FICIL) has a strong capacity for presenting well-formulated policy proposals. FICIL conducts an annual structured dialog at the prime-ministerial level. The actions that come out of these dialogs are subsequently implemented and monitored. The 2018 council meeting focused attention on improving the business environment, the availability and quality of labor, and digital performance and competitiveness, and strengthening the rule of law and preventing economic crimes.

Citations:
1. The Foreign Investors’ Council in Latvia, Information available: http://www.ficil.lv/index.php/home/, Last assessed: 02.01.2019

2. National Tripartite Cooperation Council, Agenda available at (in Latvian): https://www.mk.gov.lv/lv/content/nacionalas-trispusejas-sadarbibas-padomes-sedes, Last assessed: 02.01.2019

To what extent are non-economic interest associations capable of formulating relevant policies?

10
 9

Most interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 2
 1

Most interest associations are not capable of formulating relevant policies.
Association Competence (Others)
4
A number of environmental interest groups have the capacity to propose concrete policy measures and provide capable analysis of policy effects, often in cooperation their international networks or academic bodies. Environmental organizations engage in structured policy dialog with the relevant ministries, which supports sustained involvement in decision-making and has contributed to further capacity development.

Social interest groups are very diverse. However, most lack the capacity to propose concrete policy measures or analyze likely policy outcomes. While the government consults regularly with some social interest groups, such as the Pensioners’ Federation, these groups do not produce high-quality policy analysis. Groups representing patients’ rights or reproductive health interests are skilled at producing policy proposals, but most lack the resources to engage in sustained advocacy or policy development.

Religious communities have largely remained outside of the public-policy development process. The notable exception has been conservative groups advocating for “traditional Christian values.” These groups have sought to limit LGBT and reproductive rights and influence the school system. They have gained ground by changing their modus operandi from protest activities to active advocacy at the parliamentary level. In 2015, they secured a controversial change to the Law on Education, leaving schools vulnerable to charges of ethical breaches in teaching.

The Civic Alliance is an umbrella group of NGOs that serves as a platform for common issues. In 2017, the alliance galvanized a group of influential NGOs to call for increased transparency and participatory opportunities for NGOs in the government’s budget planning process. The NGOs are demanding the type of access and consultation already in place for other social partners, such as the National Tripartite Cooperation Council (NTSP).

Independent Supervisory Bodies

#39

Does there exist an independent and effective audit office?

10
 9

There exists an effective and independent audit office.
 8
 7
 6


There exists an effective and independent audit office, but its role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


There exists an independent audit office, but its role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

There does not exist an independent and effective audit office.
Audit Office
5
The State Audit Office is Latvia’s independent and collegial supreme audit institution. The office is constitutionally independent of parliament and the executive. It reports to parliament, which has full access to all audit findings. However, the State Audit Office does not audit the parliament itself. The parliament’s Public Expenditure and Audit Committee has this responsibility. Additionally, the parliament has commissioned an external financial audit every year since 2012. In 2012, NGOs and citizens called for the parliament to subject itself to an external audit, performed either by the State Audit Office or an independent auditor, which in addition to addressing financial issues would focus on the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of the body’s operations and processes. The speaker of parliament publicly rejected these proposals. A citizens’ petition was circulated in 2012 aiming to place the issue on the parliamentary agenda but failed to achieve the 10,000 signatures needed.


In order to promote the responsibility of officials and company managers for their decisions, the State Audit Office has frequently called for amendments to the law, which would enable the State Audit Office to impose financial penalties on officials who have wasted state funds. The law has been under discussion in the parliament since 2015, with repeated calls from the State Audit Office to solve the issue.

Citations:
1. OECD (2009), Review on Budgeting in Latvia, p. 204 and 223, Available at: http://www.oecd.org/countries/latvia/46051679.pdf, Last assessed: 05.01.2019

2. Valts Kalniņšš (2011), Assessment of National Integrity System, p.116, Published by DELNA, Available at: http://www.transparency.org/whatwedo/pub/national_integrity_system_assessment_latvia, Last assessed: 05.01.2019

Does there exist an independent and effective ombuds office?

10
 9

There exists an effective and independent ombuds office.
 8
 7
 6


There exists an effective and independent ombuds office, but its advocacy role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


There exists an independent ombuds office, but its advocacy role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

There does not exist an effective and independent ombuds office.
Ombuds Office
3
The parliament does not have its own ombuds office, but does have a committee for ethics and petitions. This committee fields all submissions from individuals and NGOs, including collective petitions which have reached the 10,000-signature threshold.

An independent ombuds office was created in 2007 following the reorganization of the Latvian National Human Rights Office. The ombuds office is charged with investigating citizens’ complaints, monitoring human rights and proposing governmental action to address systemic issues. Since 2011, the ombuds office has been active in monitoring social care facilities for the disabled, closed institutions, access-to-justice failings, issues of equal access to free education, and discrimination against women as well as raised public awareness on hate speech. In 2017, the ombuds office received 1,738 complaints, 45 of which were investigated. The ombuds office reports annually to parliament.

Citations:
1. Ombudsman of Latvia Annual report (2017) Available at (in Latvian): http://www.tiesibsargs.lv/uploads/content/lapas/tiesibsarga_2017_gada_zinojums_1520515340.pdf, Last assessed 02.01.2019

Is there an independent authority in place that effectively holds government offices accountable for handling issues of data protection and privacy?

10
 9

An independent and effective data protection authority exists.
 8
 7
 6


An independent and effective data protection authority exists, but its role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


A data protection authority exists, but both its independence and effectiveness are strongly limited.
 2
 1

There is no effective and independent data protection office.
Data Protection Authority
5
The Data State Inspectorate, established in 2001, operates in accordance with the Personal Data Protection Law and is based on a cabinet regulation of 2013, Regulations on the Data State Inspectorate. A new version of the law was proclaimed in 2018. The main goal of the inspectorate is to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, particularly the privacy of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data. The law describes the Data State Inspectorate as an independent institution. Nevertheless, the inspectorate is subject to the supervision of the Ministry of Justice and the Cabinet of Ministers, and is financed from the state budget.

Citations:
1. Personal Data Processing Law (2018) Available at:https://likumi.lv/ta/en/en/id/300099, Last assessed: 06.01.2019

2. Data State Inspectorate (2016) Annual Report 2016, Available at: http://www.dvi.gov.lv/en/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Data_State_Inspectorate_Annual-Report_2016.pdf, Last assessed: 06.01.2019
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