Due to the disagreement of politicians, from tomorrow, July 1, there will no longer be a regulation that would allow to administratively punish persons for illegal prostitution, the agency LETA found out.
Currently, the Code of Administrative Violations for violating the rules on the restriction of prostitution provides for a fine of 350 to 700 euros for natural persons and 700 to 1,400 euros for legal persons. The above-mentioned regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers stipulate that it is prohibited for a minor to engage in prostitution. The regulations also stipulate that a person is allowed to offer or provide sexual services for a fee only in a dwelling that is his or her property or for which he or she has entered into a lease agreement.
The regulations also stipulate that a person is prohibited from engaging in prostitution if the said living space is located closer than 100 meters from an educational institution or church, a minor is in it and other persons living in this space or in a particular house object to it.
Persons are prohibited from joining groups to offer and provide sexual services for a fee. The regulations also stipulate that the heads of entertainment and recreation institutions ensure that sexual services are not offered, provided and received in these institutions.
It is also forbidden to offer and advertise sexual services on the Internet, in the press and in other media, except for erotic publications, as well as through other persons.
On July 1, the new Law on Administrative Liability will enter into force in Latvia, thus the Code of Administrative Violations will expire. The new law stipulates that administrative violations, penalties applicable to them and the competence of officials in the process of administrative violations in an institution shall be determined in the laws regulating the relevant sector or in the regulations binding on local governments. With regard to prostitution, no such law has been introduced.
Signe Bole, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior (MoI), explained to LETA that the MoI had been preparing a draft law restricting prostitution for several years, which would, among other things, stipulate sanctions for the illegal provision of sexual services.
Various institutions and non-governmental organizations with various objections were involved in the draft law. The final version of the draft law prepared by the Ministry of the Interior was on the government’s agenda in February this year.
However, on 25 February, unable to agree on a number of issues, such as which person should be punished – the provider of prostitution services or the recipient of this service, to envisage or not envisage a behavior correction program for prostitution service recipients – ministers decided not to refer the Prostitution Restriction Law to the Saeima.
Taking into account the disagreement of the coalition partners and approaching July 1, the MoI was looking for alternatives to the sanctions mentioned in the Code of Administrative Violations for the provision of illegal sexual services for the provision of illegal sexual services in accordance with the regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers, Bole pointed out.
The Ministry included sanctions as a temporary solution in the Law on Public Order and Security and submitted its proposal to the Saeima Legal Commission, but no support was obtained in the Saeima.
The current situation was discussed at a meeting of the coalition forming the government this Monday. Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (JV) has instructed the coalition partners to submit their proposals for the draft law on restricting prostitution by 13 July, Bole explained.
The Ministry of the Interior believes that the version of the draft law restricting prostitution initially submitted by it was a golden mean, but apparently due to the different views of politicians, the law will not be adopted in the near future.
“If the coalition partners still manage to agree on the final version of the bill and the government can still consider the bill this summer, then unfortunately the Saeima will go on summer holidays in the near future,” Bole pointed out.
Although the situation is “as it is”, Bole pointed out that the field of prostitution is not so relevant in the general context of crime. In view of the above, it is unlikely that from July 1, people will engage in mass prostitution and people will focus more on organizing this care, she said.
Bole also referred to the number of persons punished by the police for violations in this area, namely, in 2018, persons were held administratively liable in 53 cases, while last year 67 natural persons and one legal entity were fined.
The Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior also reminded that despite the lack of administrative regulation, criminal liability is still in force, which provides for penalties for pimping, ie for the use of a person who engages in prostitution for the purpose of subsistence. Responsibility is also provided for the involvement of a person in prostitution, the use of prostitution of a minor and for sending a person with his or her consent for sexual exploitation abroad.
In Latvia, prostitutes are mostly concentrated in Riga. Toms Sadovskis, a spokesman for the Riga Municipal Police (RPP), explained to LETA that the rules for restricting prostitution in the capital are mostly not observed on the street.
Although there will be no mechanism for penalizing violations of the rules restricting prostitution from 1 July, the restrictions themselves will remain in place.
Police will continue to monitor places where such violations have been observed in the past to identify the consequences of the absence of the law. The police will also look for solutions so that they can monitor the order in the city as effectively as possible, Sadovskis explained.
“However, it must be admitted that controlling restrictions, if there is no sanction in the law, is like trying to run a marathon with your legs tied. Therefore, the law restricting prostitution must be adopted as soon as possible, ”stressed Sadovskis.
It has already been reported that the Prostitution Restriction Bill previously submitted to the Government by the Ministry of the Interior provided that the use of prostitution by a person under the age of 25 is prohibited and that a person of this age is also prohibited from engaging in prostitution. The bill provided that the use of prostitution by a victim of human trafficking was prohibited.
The draft law also provided that persons who engage in or have engaged in prostitution are provided with social rehabilitation services at the expense of the state budget in order to promote their integration into society and the labor market, at the same time achieving the renunciation of prostitution. It is envisaged that the Cabinet of Ministers will determine the type, amount, content of social rehabilitation, conditions for receiving services, granting procedures and requirements for the provider of social rehabilitation services.
With regard to sex buyers, the bill provided that they would be required to attend a behavioral correction program. Also in this case, the content, amount, procedure of receipt and execution of the behavior correction program will be determined by the Cabinet.
With regard to administrative liability, the bill provided for a warning or a fine of up to € 500 for engaging in prostitution under the age of 25.
For engaging in prostitution or the use of prostitution, if these activities are performed in an apartment or one-apartment house and other persons living in the apartment or one-apartment house object to it, the Ministry of the Interior suggested imposing a warning or a fine of up to 500 euros. Such a penalty was also provided for the practice of prostitution or the use of prostitution if these activities are performed outside the permitted places.
For non-compliance with the restrictions on offering and advertising prostitution, the MoI encouraged natural and legal persons to impose a warning or a fine of up to 700 euros.
For the practice of prostitution or the use of prostitution, if these activities are carried out in an apartment or one-apartment house located closer than 100 meters from an educational institution or church, a warning or a fine of 150 to 1000 euros was suggested.
The bill provided for a fine of between 200 and 1,000 euros for the use of prostitution by a person between the ages of 18 and 25.
For the practice of prostitution or the use of prostitution, if these activities are performed in the place where the child is located, the bill provided for the imposition of a fine of 200 to 1250 euros.
The Ministry of the Interior suggested imposing a fine of 250 to 1,000 euros for joining a group to engage in prostitution.
For sex buyers who do not attend behavioral correction programs, the bill provided for a fine of 250 to 1,000 euros.
The bill provided for a fine of between 250 and 1,000 euros for the promotion or provision of prostitution, which takes the form of accepting orders for the use of prostitution, or ensuring physical security or transporting persons.
The bill also provided for fines for entrepreneurs whose places of business include prostitution.