On November 4, in order to ensure uniform application of Section 140, Paragraph 7.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court convened the general meeting of senators of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate, and the general meeting adopted the decision regarding the interpretation of this provision.

The matter was considered at the suggestion of the Prosecutor General. The question asked by the Prosecutor General to the Senate was whether Section 140, Paragraph 7.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law could be applied when questioning persons outside the territory of Latvia. According to this provision of the law, in cases when, by means of a teleconference or videoconference, the person conducting the proceedings is able to verify the identity of a person in another room or building by technical means, the identity of this person does not have to be confirmed by an authorized person.

The possibility to use a teleconference or videoconference without the presence of an authorized person, if it is possible for the person conducting the proceedings to verify the identity of the person by technical means, is established by the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law adopted on June 11, 2020.

Following these amendments, the Ministry of Justice prepared a circular explaining that under this legal provision the person conducting the proceedings is not obliged to verify the exact location of the person who participates in the proceedings, therefore this provision can be used even if the person is in another country. In the opinion of the Ministry of Justice, if the participant to the proceedings is in the territory of another state, the application of Section 140, Paragraph 7.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law is possible if the person is a Latvian citizen or non-citizen and if the person wishes and agrees to participate in the proceedings via videoconference.

The Prosecutor General has expressed doubts about such an interpretation of the provision.

The general meeting of senators of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate explained that in accordance with the general principle the jurisdiction of the Republic of Latvia is possible only in the territory of the state. The procedure specified in Section 140, Paragraph 7.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law regarding preferential conditions for the performance of procedural activities using technical aids may be applied only if the procedural activities are performed in the territory of Latvia.

The general meeting acknowledged that the Criminal Procedure Law may be applied abroad in accordance with the provisions of Part C of the Criminal Procedure Law on international co-operation in the field of criminal law. The laws and regulations regulating mutual legal co-operation between the states also do not provide for differences in the interrogation procedure of a person to be interrogated abroad by videoconference depending on his or her citizenship.

 

Information prepared by

Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 28652211