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Inese Laizāne: The verdict of a Kirgizstan court against Latvian citizens is an obvious violation of human rights

Inese Laizāne/flickr.com/Latvian Saeima.
On 12 May 2017, in Kyrgyzstan, without giving a prior notice to the attorneys, a confidential court hearing was called and during a few hours, the judgment was issued in absentia and conviction was handed down against the following citizens of the Republic of Latvia - the former shareholder of Manas Bank Valeri Belokon and former executives of Manas Bank Jevgenijs Verbickis, Anita Lase and Yuri Kachnov. They were sentenced to serve 20-years custodial service, and property forfeiture (confiscation) was ordered. 

It is unambiguously clear that Kyrgyzstan has crucially violated the fundamental principles of criminal justice and has committed breaches of international law and of intergovernmental treaties. The judgment therefore will not be recognised and will not be enforced in Republic of Latvia, the European Union and other civilized countries.

The Saeima Human Rights and Social Affairs Committee chairman Inese Laizāne commented Latviannews.lv the verdict of a Kirgizstan court against Latvian citizens.

What do you think of this as a precedent, a secretly summoned court session without notice to the accused nor their attorneys?
It is an obvious violation of human rights, a clear violation of the UN Human Rights Convention. It looks like the worst of the totalitarian Stalinist times. Every person is entitled to a fair trial, including a defense, an examination of the case, respect for deadlines for giving notice, compliance with procedure. It is logical and reasonable to inform the country whose nationals are subject to, I wouldn’t say, a trial, I would say an execution. It is very sad that there is a state in the 21st century that has this kind of approach. One should ask not the particular court, but the state about its actions and attitude toward citizens of the European Union and, in truth, against people in general. The essence of the UN Convention is that it applies to the whole world. This precedent shows that there are places where ignorance celebrates a victory and leads us back to the past.

Which Latvian institutions should do something to defend their citizens and what should be done?
To begin with, it is the Foreign Ministry which must act in the framework of its competent and I am convinced that they have the means, in this case, one should even say the weapons, to protect the citizens of our country. That is the duty of the ministry. Citizens have to inform the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry must get actively involved.

What can the Saeima or the Committee you head do in the concrete situation?
When the Committee gets a letter from the Latvian citizens with a record of the case, the first thing we will do is the address and activate the aforementioned Foreign Ministry. The parliament in such cases may request that the Foreign Ministry take appropriate steps to clarify the situation and provide a defense. The Committee I head can make recommendations and publicize its viewpoint.

What would you think of taking specific steps against Kirgizstan officials involved, for example, putting the judges and prosecutors on an EU and Latvian “blacklist”?
This issue must be advanced by the Foreign Ministry, the parliament can encourage it. Our Committee, after several cases when children were removed from the families of Latvian nationals, without informing relatives in Latvia and without engaging the Latvian state as a party, drafted a declaration whose implementation is overseen by the Foreign Ministry.

What can the state do to compel Kirgizstan to comply with the unappealable ruling of the International arbitration court in Paris that ruled that Kirgizstan must pay Mr. V. Belokoņs USD 16.5 million in compensation for an illegally expropriated bank?
This is a matter for talks between states, where the issue can be actualized by meetings at various levels. No one has suspended common sense and talks. Knowing the issue, within the scope of their competence, diplomats at all levels can bring it to the fore, both the ambassador, and the honorary consul in Kirgizstan, who can do it being on location.

Will you summon the Foreign Minister to the Saeima for an update on this matter?
Of course, we will summon him. When the Committee receives the letter from citizens, we will encourage the Foreign Minister for explain the situation and to present views on possibilities for protecting our nationals.
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