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Matiss Kukainis, Partner at Spigulis & Kukainis
To help understand the reasons for Latvia’s stagnation in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) and to explore possible ways of reducing corruption, Transparency International Latvia (TI Latvia) hosted a discussion panel on 18 February, 2021. With a view to providing insight into the problems and to point to concrete solutions, participants included justice and corruption experts and practitioners with day-to-day responsibility for fighting corruption and investigation, prosecution, and conviction in cases of offense, as well as representatives from Latvia’s business community.
Latvia’s indicator in the Transparency International CPI increased by 1 point compared to 2019, reaching 57 points (out of 100), with Latvia ranking 42nd together with Cyprus and Costa Rica. Although this increase could be considered a step in the right direction, Latvia’s CPI has been stagnant for a long time and is too low, as well as lagging behind other European Union (EU) and Organization for European Co-operation and Development (OSCE) countries. Moreover, a CPI of close to 50 points signals that the country has a weak anti-corruption system and a corrupt environment. TI Latvia’s analysis of the CPI shows that there are three areas where Latvia needs to step up its efforts to catch up with the rest of the Baltic and EU countries: Latvia’s ability to convict high-level officials in corruption-related cases, business integrity and political integrity.
The experts discussed Latvia’s next steps toward better results in CPI – what political decisions to take and what to do to improve Latvia’s situation. Overall, although Latvia’s 2020 CPI index is not encouraging, it points to directions in which the government needs to step up its efforts to fight corruption in order to close the gap between Latvia and other Baltic and EU countries. Based on the views of the key speakers, TI Latvia puts forward a number of solutions in each of the discussion areas:
These recommendations also take into account the proposals for improving the performance of the Prosecutor’s Office based on a study of the State Audit Office and the OECD audit report published in the beginning of 2021 and summarised in the report “Performance of the Prosecution Services in Latvia: A Comparative Study”.
The recommendations arising from the discussion organized by TI Latvia are essential to promote the rule of law and a corruption-free environment in Latvia, as well as to promote business confidence in the judiciary. Their further implementation is important in the fight against corruption and would bring Latvia’s CPI closer to the EU average.
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