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Latvian Regulatory Texts on e-Democracy

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					DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF DEMOCRACY AND
POLITICAL AFFAIRS
DIRECTORATE OF DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS

PROJECT “GOOD GOVERNANCE IN THE INFORMATION SOCIETY”




CAHDE(2008) 11 E
English only/anglais uniquement
                                                        Strasbourg, 19 May 2008




  Ad hoc Committee on e-democracy / Comité ad hoc sur la
                démocratie électronique
                        (CAHDE)
                       Third meeting / Troisième réunion

                          Strasbourg, 20-21 May 2008

                      Palais de l'Europe, Room 6 / Salle 6




               Laws and regulations of Republic of Latvia
                     on Democracy/e-Democracy

                                    by
                              Elita Zvaigzne
                          CAHDE member for Latvia
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            Laws and regulations of Republic of Latvia
                  on Democracy/e-Democracy
                      (carried out by Elita Zvaigzne)
The summarization given below outlines the main Laws and Regulations of the
Republic of Latvia stating the obligation to ensure access to information and
participation of the society in decision making processes. Links to English versions of
the Legal Acts described below are provided where available. Links to local versions
are provided for Legal Acts not available in English.

I. Freedom and Accessibility of Information, Principles of
ensuring a democratic, lawful, effective, open and publicly
accessible State administration

1.     The Constitution of the Republic of Latvia (English version
available on website of the Parliament of Republic of Latvia
http://www.saeima.lv/Likumdosana_eng/likumdosana_satversme.html )
Sets the principles of Fundamental Human Rights as follows:
Paragraph 99 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia declaring that everyone has
the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the church shall be
separate from the State.
Paragraph 100 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia declares that everyone
has the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to freely receive, keep
and distribute information and to express his or her views. Censorship is prohibited.
Paragraph 101 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia declares that every citizen
of Latvia has the right, as provided for by law, to participate in the work of the State
and of local government, and to hold a position in the civil service. Local
governments shall be elected by Latvian citizens and citizens of the European Union
who permanently reside in Latvia. Every citizen of the European Union who
permanently resides in Latvia has the right, as provided by law, to participate in the
work of local governments. The working language of local governments is the
Latvian language.


     2. Freedom of Information Law
(English version available on the website of the Translation and Terminology Centre
http://www.ttc.lv/?id=50 Page 1, Document download code E0029)

The purpose of this Law is to ensure that the public has access to information, which
is at the disposal of institutions or which an institution in conformity with its
competence has a duty to create. This Law determines uniform procedures by which
private persons are entitled to obtain information from an institution and to utilise it.
This Law applies to documented information, which is within the circulation of
information of institutions. Information shall be accessible to the public in all cases,
when this Law does not specify otherwise. This Law does not apply to the exchange
of information between institutions.



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Section 10 of the Freedom of Information Law regulates duty to provide information
as follows: An institution shall provide information on its own initiative or on the
basis of an application from a private person. (2) Taking into account good
administration principles, an institution on its own initiative shall ensure accessibility
of certain types of generally accessible information. (3) Generally accessible
information shall be provided also on the basis of an application from a private
person. Such information shall be provided to anyone who wishes to receive it,
subject to the equal rights of persons to obtain information. The applicant shall not be
required to specially justify his or her interest in generally accessible information, and
he or she may not be denied it because such information does not apply to the
applicant. (4) If the entirety of the requested information also includes restricted
access information, the institution shall provide only that part of the information,
which is generally accessible. That part of the information, which includes restricted
access information shall be provided taking into account the special procedures
specified in this Law. (5) An institution may agree with an applicant for information
regarding permanent co-operation in transfer of the information at its disposal for re-
use.(6) The procedures by which institutions shall place information on the Internet
shall be determined by the Cabinet.

                      3. State Administration Structure Law
(English version available on the website of the Translation and Terminology Centre
(http://www.ttc.lv/index.php?skip=90&itid=likumi&id=10&tid=50&l=EN                Page    7
Document download code E0380)

The purpose of this Law is to ensure a democratic, lawful, effective, open and
publicly accessible State administration.

Section 10 of the State Administration Structure Law sets the Principles of State
Administration including: (3) State administration shall act in the public interest.
Public interest shall include also proportionate observance of the rights and lawful
interests of private individuals, (5) State administration in its activities shall observe
the principles of good administration. Such principles shall include openness with
respect to private individuals and the public, the protection of data, the fair
implementation of procedures within a reasonable time period and other regulations,
the aim of which is to ensure that State administration observes the rights and lawful
interests of private individuals, (6) State administration in its activities shall regularly
examine and improve the quality of services provided to the public. Its duty is to
simplify and improve procedures for the benefit of private individuals, (7) The duty of
State administration is to inform the public of its activities. This especially applies to
that section of the public and to those private persons whose rights or lawful interests
are or may be affected by the implemented or planned activities.

Section 26 of the State Administration Structure Law binds the duty for State
Chancellery to 4) inform the public regarding the work of the Cabinet;

Section 48 of the State Administration Structure Law defines the types of Public
Participation including (1) In order to achieve the purpose of this Law, institutions
shall involve public representatives (representatives of public organisations and other
organised groups, individual competent persons) in their activities, by including such
persons in working groups, advisory councils or by asking them to provide opinions,



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(2) In matters important to the public, institutions have a duty to organise a public
discussion. If an institution takes a decision that does not correspond to the opinion of
a considerable part of society, the institution shall provide a special substantiation for
such decision, (3) Institutions (hereinafter also – authorising persons), in compliance
with the provisions of this Chapter, may authorise private individuals to perform the
tasks of State administration, (4) In ensuring public participation in their activities,
institutions may also utilise other types of public involvement specified by regulatory
enactments that are not referred to in this Section, (5) The head of an institution shall
decide on the involvement of public representatives in the activity of the institution
and on the type of such involvement, unless specified otherwise by regulatory
enactments.

4.    Rules of Procedure of the Cabinet of Ministers
regarding Public Envolvement in Legal Act Project Development (English
version available on the website of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia
http://www.mk.gov.lv/en/mk/darbibu-reglamentejosie-dokumenti/kartibas-rullis/ )

Section 3 of Rules of Procedure of the Cabinet of Ministers requires supply of an
Annotation of the legal act upon submission of draft laws and draft regulations for
consideration at the Cabinet of Ministers, with the following drafts:

3.1 draft laws (also upon submission of a draft law on adoption of an international
agreement after signing the agreement for directing it to the Saeima);
3.2 repealed;
3.3 draft legal acts causing significant impact on society, environment, and
simplification of the business and administrative procedures, as well as causing any
fiscal     effect    on     the    state      budget     and    municipal     budgets;
3.4 draft regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers for which according to the procedure
prescribed in the present Regulations the Chief of Staff of the Deputy Prime Minister,
a ministry’s State Secretary, Director of the State Chancellery or Head of the
Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (hereinafter in the text – State
Secretary) has requested an annotation and for which according to the decision of the
State secretaries’ meeting the annotation is to be attached.

Rules of Procedure of the Cabinet of Ministers anticipate supply of an annotation of
the legal act that includes display of the Public Involvement during the development
process of the Legal Act Project. Annotation binds over inclusion of information
regarding Public and Experts’ Opinion on the issue hence facilitating Society
involvement in Lawmaking process.

   5. Cooperation Memorandum between Non-governmental
      Organizations and the Cabinet of Ministers
(Full text available in English on the website of the Cabinet of Ministers of the
Republic of Latvia http://www.mk.gov.lv/en/sabiedribas-lidzdaliba/sadarbibas-
memorands/?lang=1)

The objective of the Memorandum is to facilitate operation of an efficient public
administration system that meets the interests of the society by ensuring involvement




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of the civil society in the decision-making process at all levels and stages in public
administration, thus promoting development of the basic element of a democratic
country – civil society.

6.     Procedures by which Institutions Place Information on the Internet
(English version available on the website of the Translation and Terminology Centre
(http://www.ttc.lv/index.php?skip=750&itid=mk_noteikumi&id=10&tid=71&l=EN
Page 51 Document download code E1199)

This Regulation prescribes the procedures, by which institutions shall place
information on the Internet in order to ensure availability thereof. Transparency of the
decision making process as well as the participation are observed as the mandatory
requirements to be included in the institutions’ webpages.

7.      Procedures for the Development, Implementation, Monitoring
and Public Discussion of the National Development Plan
(http://www.likumi.lv/doc.php?id=90709 free access provided only to Latvian version
of these Regulations)

These Regulations prescribe the procedures for the development, implementation,
monitoring and public discussion of the National Development Plan. Public
discussion issues regulated on Sections 1.; 2.; 3.6.;3.8.; 3.10.; 10.3.; 10.4.;11.

II. Rights of the Public Organisations and Associations

8.     Associations and Foundations Law
(English version available on the website of the Translation and Terminology Centre
http://www.ttc.lv/index.php?skip=165&itid=likumi&id=10&tid=50&l=EN Page 12,
Document download code E0823)

The purpose of this Law is to promote the activities of associations and foundations
and the long-term development thereof, as well as to facilitate the strengthening of a
democratic and civil society. (2) This Law regulates the guiding principles for the
activity, organisational structure, liquidation and re-organisation of associations and
foundations.

9.     Public Benefit Organisation Law
(English version available on the website of the Translation and Terminology Centre
http://www.ttc.lv/index.php?skip=240&itid=likumi&id=10&tid=50&l=EN Page 17,
Document download code E1153)

The purpose of the Law is to promote the public benefit activities of associations and
foundations, as well as religious organisations and the institutions thereof. A public
benefit activity is an activity, which provides a significant benefit to society or a part
thereof, especially if it is directed towards charitable activities, protection of civil
rights and human rights, development of civil society, education, science, culture and
promotion of health and disease prophylaxis, support for sports, environmental
protection, provision of assistance in cases of catastrophes and extraordinary




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situations, and raising the social welfare of society, especially for low-income and
socially disadvantaged person groups.

III. Laws on Local Governments

   10. Law On Local Governments
(English version available on the website of the Translation and Terminology Centre
http://www.ttc.lv/index.php?skip=45&itid=likumi&id=10&tid=50&l=EN Page 4,
Document download code E0118)

This Law sets out the general provisions and economic basis for the activities of the
local governments of Latvia, the competence of local governments, the rights and
responsibilities of city or county councils (district or parish councils) and their
institutions, as well as of the chairpersons of city or county councils (district or parish
councils), the relations of local governments with the Cabinet and ministries, as well
as the general provisions for relations among local governments. Sections 24, 611, 612
and 72 of this Law defines obligation of the local government to organize and
accomplish the procedure public discussion.

11.      Administrative-Territorial Reform Law
(http://www.likumi.lv/doc.php?id=51528&mode=KDOC free access provided only to
Latvian version of this Law)

The purpose of the administrative-territorial reform is to establish administrative
territories capable of economic development with territorial local governments, which
would ensure the provision of good quality services to residents. This Law prescribes
the procedures by which an administrative-territorial reform of territorial local
governments is performed and what administrative territories shall be established by
implementing the reform.

Section 8 of the Administrative-Territorial Reform Law binds: to organise a public
discussion of the local government amalgamation project; Within the framework of
the administrative-territorial reform, territorial local government amalgamation
projects shall be prepared on the financial resources allocated by the State, assessing
the results of a public discussion.

IV. Laws and regulations for Specific Economic Sectors

   12. Construction Law
(English version available on the website of the Translation and Terminology Centre
http://www.ttc.lv/index.php?skip=120&itid=likumi&id=10&tid=50&l=EN Page 9,
Document download code E0551)

This Law determines the mutual relations of persons participating in construction, as
well as the rights and obligations thereof during the construction process and liability
for the conformity of the structure which has emerged as a result of construction with
the task thereof, economic viability, the intended lifetime and the relevant regulatory
enactments, as well as the competence of State administrative and local government
institutions in the relevant field of construction.



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According to the Section 11 of the Construction Law a local government may prohibit
building or suggest adjustments thereof, substantiating the decision thereof with the
legal provisions that do not allow such construction, as well as taking into account the
results of the public discussion of the territorial spatial plan (detailed plan) and
construction.

Section 12 of the Construction Law defines the cases the public discussion is a must
where: (1) A local government shall, prior to taking a decision regarding construction,
ensure public discussion regarding the intended construction if: 1) a structure of
public importance is built; 2) the cost of a newly erected building or reconstruction for
State or local government funds exceeds 50 000 lats; 3) construction significantly
affects the state of the environment, living conditions of the population or the value of
immovable property; or 4) the building is intended in an existing public-use territory.
(2) The Cabinet shall determine the procedures pursuant to which public discussion of
construction shall be ensured.

13.    Procedure of the public discussion on anticipated building
(http://www.likumi.lv/doc.php?id=157684 - free access provided only to Latvian
version of this Regulations)

The aim of the public discussion is to align interests of the public and building
concept initiator to provide transparency of the decisions of the local government
concerning spatial development, as well to empower society to take part in decision
making.




14.05.2008 Riga, Latvia




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