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Minister: Latvia at risk of joining list of countries that torture prison inmates

Jānis Bordāns/flickr.com/Saeima
If Latvia does not make up its mind on Liepaja prison’s construction, it will be at risk of ending up on the list of countries that torture prison inmates, said Latvia’s Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama.

Although so far Latvia has managed to avoid being blacklisted, if Liepaja prison is not built, the country will definitely end up on the list, said Bordāns. Conditions in which prison inmates are currently kept fit the criteria for addition to the list.

The minister also mentioned that last year Latvia paid prison inmates compensation worth EUR 8,000 for living in unacceptable conditions.

Bordāns said the decision regarding Liepaja prison needs to be made before June 2019; otherwise the country risks losing already invested money.

The fact that the new prison is mentioned in the government declaration Bordāns believes to be a positive signal. Nevertheless, he also mentioned that construction of a new prison has been present in government declarations since 2009.

The minister also stressed that delays with Liepaja prison’s construction would be unacceptable, because it would only increase costs. For example, while the budget allocated for the prison was EUR 50 million in 2013, now the project requires EUR 140 million.

When asked why the prison project is taking so long, Bordāns allowed that it is possible the government still does not consider this matter a priority.

«This is not about prison inmates’ comfort – it is about public safety,» said Bordāns, adding that the prison environment directly affects the state in which inmates return to society.


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