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Frontpage News 2012 Correctional services programme launched in Latvia

Correctional services reform supported in Latvia
Photo credit: Christopher Vander Eecken

Correctional services programme launched in Latvia

The programme to reform the Latvian Correctional Services and Police Detention Centres was launched on 13 December 2012 in Riga. The EEA and Norway Grants have allocated over €13 million to the programme, the biggest amount under the current funding round in Latvia.

Addressing the audience at the launch event of this high priority programme, Latvian Minister of Justice Janis Bordans said that a country’s economic development cannot be seen separately from the state of its justice sector. Norwegian State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security Kristin Bergersen emphasised the importance of working together across the borders for the benefit of common goals, like protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Norwegian Ambassador to Latvia Jan Grevstad said that the leading role for the EEA and Norway Grants in Latvia is investing in people”, and that the three donor states – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway - want to see the Latvian society at the heart of every programme. Rihards Kozlovskis, the Latvian Minister of Interior, expressed hope that the Grants’ support to the correctional services sector will help to bring down the number of complaints from the detainees to the European Court of Human Rights.

The programme has the objective of improving the correctional services system in compliance with relevant international human rights instruments. There will be three pre-defined projects implemented under the programme.

Increasing alternative to imprisonment

Latvia’s State Probation Service (SPS) is the promoter of the €2.6 million project which will be implemented in partnership withtheOslo Probation Service and the Norwegian Prison and Probation Service Training and Research Centre (KRUS).

The project aims to: implement alternative solutions to deprivation of liberty and a pilot project on electronic monitoring; further develop the current resettlement system by carrying out research on the SPS’ target audience; develop a special monitoring system for juvenile offenders; strengthen the current correctional services in particular through the involvement of mental health experts in serious cases; carry out professional support measures for the probation employees; improve the capacity of probation and prison officers by providing training programmes on communication and motivational interviewing skills, working with sex offenders and offenders with mental health problems, and electronic surveillance, including judges and prosecutors.

New unit at Olaine prison

The Latvian Prison Administration is the project promoter, and planned project partners include the Oslo prison, Norwegian Prison and Probation Service Training and Research Centre (KRUS), Polish Prison Administration, Latvian State Probation Service, and the Council of Europe. The estimated cost of the project is €8.3 million.

The new unit will be specially designated for the purpose of treatment and re-integration of drug users. It will replace sub-standard prison capacity elsewhere in Latvia and will be based on research and the principle of progressive punishment. The project also aims to achieve a greater control over the spread of contagious diseases among the prison population. Training of staff, development of appropriate environment for the addicts, and elaboration and implementation of resocialisation programmes are foreseen under the programme.

Improving the standard of Latvian State police detention centres

The State Police of Latvia is the project promoter, and planned partners include the Estonian Police Administration, Estonian Police and Border Control College, and the Council of Europe. The total project amount is over €3.3 million.

The project falls within the sector of home affairs and is aimed at improving the standard of Latvian State Police short term detention centres (STDC) and temporary keeping places. But the most important part of the project are professional training programmes for STDC personnel.