On Wednesday, 5 April, the Saeima adopted in the third reading the State Defence Service Law and related amendments to other laws, introducing the State Defence Service. The first draft will commence their service on 1 July.
According to the Law, male citizens of Latvia are to be drafted into the State Defence Service within one year after turning 18. If such a citizen is in the process of receiving education (except higher education) after reaching the age of 18, he will be subject to State Defence Service within one year after graduating from the educational institution, or within one year after reaching the age of 24 if he has not graduated by the age of 24. Men and women aged 18 to 27 may volunteer for the State Defence Service.
The Law provides several exceptions that allow postponing conscription to the State Defence Service. In addition, the Law lays down specific cases for deciding on the non-conscription of a citizen.
There will be several different ways to serve in the State Defence Service: 11 months in a Regular Force or National Guard unit of the National Armed Forces, or a total of five years in the National Guard, fulfilling Service duties not less than 21 individual training days and not more than seven group training days per year. In addition, from 1 January 2024, conscripts may also serve by studying in the reserve officer study programme for higher education institution and college students. People subject to the State Defence Service who are unable to do military service on the grounds of the freedom of thought, conscience, or religion may join the State Defence Civil Service instead.
When forming a draft of the State Defence Military Service, citizens volunteering for the Service will be selected first. The remaining spaces are to be filled based on random selection. The selection is to be proportional to the number of citizens subject to the State Defence Service in each municipality whose declared place of residence is in that municipality. The Law stipulates that, until 2027, citizens living abroad on a permanent basis who have notified the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs of their address abroad will not be drafted into the State Defence Service.
The Law provides that failure to attend the checks at the time and place specified in the summons of the Ministry of Defence without due reason will be subject to a warning or fine of up to EUR 350. People evading the State Defence Military Service are to be held liable in accordance with the procedures laid down in the Criminal Law.
The Law will enter into force on the day following its promulgation.
Saeima Press Service