Criminal liability to be introduced for engaging in military and combat activities abroad


On Thursday, 22 September, the Saeima adopted in the first reading amendments to the National Security Law and Criminal Law. The amendments that prohibit citizens and non-citizens of Latvia from serving in foreign armies, police services, and security agencies are aimed at addressing the potential risks associated with Latvian nationals joining the aforementioned foreign forces. The proposed amendments introduce criminal liability and imprisonment for a term of up to four years in case on noncompliance.

This means that Latvian citizens are prohibited from joining foreign armed forces, internal military services, military organisations, intelligence or security services, police forces or any other law enforcement agency. This provision shall not apply to joining the relevant services of the European Union, NATO, member states of the European Free Trade Association, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Federative Republic of Brazil, or New Zealand.

Exceptional status is also granted to Latvian citizens with dual citizenship, who are enrolled in the mandatory service of the other country of citizenship.

According to the amendments, non-citizens are prohibited from joining any foreign services.

In case these provisions are violated, a penalty of imprisonment for up to four years, temporary arrest, community work, or monetary fine shall be applied.

The authors of the proposed amendments explained that the aim of the legislative initiative is to prevent Latvian citizens and non-citizens from gaining military and combat experience outside Latvia, which can potentially undermine the security situation, defence capabilities, and international reputation of Latvia, as well sabotage counterintelligence efforts. The amendments also address the high risk of Latvian nationals who illegally serve in foreign services being used as a source of information about the defence capabilities and military potential of Latvia and its allies.

The amendments are expected to come into force on 1 January 2017, with a transition period until 1 January 2018 applicable to persons who have joined a military service abroad by 1 January 2017.

The proposed amendments to the National Security Law and the Criminal Law have to be adopted by the Saeima in two more readings.




Saeima Press Service