On Tuesday, 13 November, the Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee of the Saeima supported in principle amendments to several laws which aim to decrease alcohol consumption among children and youths; amendments also state that individuals purchasing alcohol for youths, as well as sellers of illegal alcohol, will be held accountable. The Committee supported forwarding the amendments to the Handling of Alcoholic Beverages Law, the Law on Police, and the Latvian Administrative Violations Code for consideration by the Saeima in the first reading.
The Draft Law on Amendments to the Handling of Alcoholic Beverages Law stipulates that when purchasing alcohol, individuals from 18 to 25 years of age will have to present a personal ID document without a request from the sales clerk and that in supermarkets alcohol will have to be sold in a special department. The amendments also prohibit alcohol sales on the premises of official accommodation facilities, social care facilities, state and municipal institutions. The Draft Law also stipulates that alcohol advertisements will have to contain information about the limitations regarding the sale and purchase of alcohol.
Authors of the Draft Law point out that Latvia is among those European countries where alcohol consumption among youths is the highest, where alcohol is easily accessible, and where the situation has not improved over the past five years.
The Committee also supported amendments to the Administrative Violations Code for which the designated responsible committee is the Legal Affairs Committee. The proposed amendments to the Administrative Violations Code set forth accountability of minors for purchasing alcohol, for the use of an adult as an intermediary to purchase alcohol, as well as for the sale of alcohol to a person who is from 18 to 25 years of age if he/she has not presented a personal ID document.
It is planned that the Administrative Violations Code will set forth an option to annul certain commercial licences held by a legal person if it commits repeated offence of selling alcohol to minors. It is also planned to increase sanctions for repeatedly involving a minor in the consumption of alcoholic beverages leading to a state of intoxication. The proposed amendments envisage that the owner (manager) of a property where illegal alcohol is sold will be also held accountable.
In order to avert and identify administrative violations and criminal offences, the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Police states that police officers have the right to carry out control purchases and involve others, including minors, in these purchases. The authors of the Draft Law point out that the involvement of minors in control purchases will be strictly regulated. In order to identify violations regarding the sale of alcohol to minors, the proposed amendments will promote active social participation in averting such violations, as well as raise legal awareness of minors.
The amendments to the laws were drafted by a working group chaired by Arvils Ašeradens, Deputy Chairman of the Social and Employment Matters Committee; the other members of the group were Inita Bišofa (Reform Party), Andris Buiķis (Unity), Ivans Klementjevs (Concorde Centre) and Aleksejs Loskutovs (Unity).
Amendments to the Handling of Alcoholic Beverages Law, the Law on Police and the Administrative Violations Code still have to be considered by the Saeima in three readings.
Saeima Press Service