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LATVIA - Abolitionist

Government: parliamentary democracy
State of civil and political rights: Free
Constitution: the 1991 Constitutional Law supplemented the 1922 constitution
Legal System: based on civil law system with traces of Socialist legal traditions and practices
Legislative System: Unicameral Parliament (Saeima)
Judicial System: Supreme Court, judges' appointments are confirmed by Parliament; Constitutional Court (judges' appointments are confirmed by Parliament)
Religion: Lutheran majority; Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish minorities


International Treaties on the Death Penalty and Human Rights:
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • 1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
  • Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (aiming to the abolition of the death penalty)
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
  • 6th Protocol to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (concerning the abolition of the death penalty)
  • European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances
  • Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)


FACTS

On 26 January 2012, Latvia ratified Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances. Latvia signed Protocol No. 13 in 2002, and the law on ratification was adopted by the Parliament on 13 October 2011.
Latvia was the last country of the European Union to retain capital punishment for murder, however only during wartime.
Latvia regained independence in 1991 after fall of the Soviet Union. Subsequently the death penalty in civilian cases was reserved for murder and the only method of executions, as during Soviet times, was shooting with a single bullet to the back of the head. The last executions took place in January 1996. Latvia continued to hand down death sentences until 1998.
On 15 April 1999, the death penalty in time of peace was abolished by ratifying Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights.
On 19 December 2016, Latvia once again co-sponsored and voted in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.

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