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DELNA’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN 2023 AND TASKS FOR 2024

The aim of Transparency International Latvia (Sabiedrība par atklātību – Delna; Delna) is to create an open, fair and democratic society that is free from corruption in public administration, politics, business and in human relations. In 2023, the organization implemented the tasks defined in the statutes to achieve the goal, focusing especially on identifying and mitigating the risks of corruption, monitoring and analyzing the activities of parliament of Latvia (Saeima). Delna published an evaluation of internal party democracy and a handbook for party members, carried out a repeated evaluation of the transparency of local authority websites “Transparency Index of Local Authorities 2023” and the annual 2022 Latvian result of the Corruption Perceptions Index, together with analysis and recommendations for decision-makers. We followed the process of forming the new government and presented our vision of it.

Delna successfully continued to implement public benefit activities and the tasks defined in the statutes. The most significant works and achievements of Delna in 2023 and development perspectives in 2024:

 

ASSESSMENT AND PREVENTION OF CORRUPTION

We published the results of the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2022 in Latvia, together with analysis and recommendations for decision-makers. We drew the attention of decision-makers, institutions responsible for combating corruption, as well as the public to the fact that Latvia’s CPI indicator is unchanged – 59 points out of 100 and is significantly lower than in a number of other European Union and OECD countries. Latvia’s performance indicates that Latvia will not be able to achieve the goals set in the National Development Plan 2021-2027. the goal set for 2024 is to reach 64 points and 67 points in 2027.

We followed the Corruption Prevention and Combating Measures Plan (2023-2025) approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. The plan includes 49 anti-corruption measures and provides a comprehensive picture of the problem of corruption in Latvia, as well as expands the current approach to reducing corruption, including the private sector and work with university students. In the future, it is necessary to monitor the actual implementation of anti-corruption measures.

We organized the conference “Corruption – a threat to national and global security” dedicated to the International Anti-Corruption Day. At the conference, representatives of the public, private and non-governmental sectors emphasized their role and that of each individual in reducing corruption.

We followed the development of amendments to the law “On Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Activities of Public Officials, which further stipulates that in the future, members of municipal councils will be prohibited from receiving remuneration in an association, foundation, religious organization or commercial company from financial resources that the organization has received from the relevant municipality. The restriction will not apply to cases where financial resources were allocated as a result of an open tender or for the performance of a delegated administrative task.

 

FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

We followed the investigations launched by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office on the embezzlement of European Union funds in Livani, Valmiera and Valka. Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB), in cooperation with the European Prosecutor’s Office, conducted searches, seizures and interrogations in several facilities in Valka, Valmiera and Livani in connection with the use of European Union fund money in the development and construction of industrial facilities. There are suspicions of fraud on a large scale and abuse of official position, defrauding several million euros from the European Regional Development Fund. Delna acknowledges that these activities by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and KNAB could deter other municipalities from dishonest actions in acquiring EU funds.

We followed the changes in connection with the amendments to the Public Procurement Law, which improves the legal regulation regarding the reasons for the exclusion of candidates and applicants, the obligation of suppliers to terminate the procurement procedure in the absence of competition, if a consultation with suppliers that meets certain requirements was not held prior to its initiation, as well as improves the rules of procurement commissions for creation and operation. Improvements generally increase the quality of procurement preparation and reduce the risks of corruption.

 

USE OF DATA IN REDUCING CORRUPTION

We organized several guest lectures at universities on the use of public data in the detection of corruption. Guest lectures were held at Daugavpils University, Liepāja University, Banku University, Ventspils University and Vidzeme University. Experts from Delna and the Ministry of Finance presented their experience and main challenges in using data to identify dishonest behavior and corruption.

We published a guide to identifying dishonesty using public data. The guide was developed in cooperation with the international anti-corruption movement Transparency International and shows the risk indicators or “red flags” of dishonest politics and how to use them in the analysis of party financiers. The manual also includes a summary of all sources of public data availability in Latvia.

 

WHISTLEBLOWING PROMOTION

We supported whistle-blowers and highlighted gaps in the whistle-blowing system. We provided support to whistleblowers at the Delna Whistleblowing Center, maintained the website www.celtrauksmi.lv dedicated to whistleblowing and published recommendations for potential whistleblowers. We held webinars on the Whistleblowing Law and the issues of its application to state administrative institutions, organizations, companies that review whistleblower reports as competent authorities in accordance with the internal whistleblowing system.

We published the updated whistleblower guidebook. The guidebook explains the whistleblowing process after the upgraded Whistleblowing Law came into force on February 4, 2022 and is supplemented with practical examples that help to understand why and how use the whistleblowing system.

 

MONITORING THE WORK OF THE GOVERNMENT, SAEIMA AND POLITICAL PARTIES

We gave an opinion on the process of forming the Silina cabinet. The forces forming the government lacked a unified position on the issue of the fight against corruption as a matter of national security, national defense and Euro-Atlantic integration, including among the coalition partners the Union of Greens and Farmers, which has ties to Aivars Lembergs, who was found guilty of bribery, money laundering, unauthorized participation in a property transaction, falsification of documents, concealment of assets and subject to international sanctions.

We published an evaluation of internal party democracy and a handbook for party members. We pointed out the problems of Latvian parties, the public’s low trust in parties, the volatility and instability of the parties themselves, the small number of party members compared to the neighboring countries – Lithuania and Estonia. We also looked at unclear internal democracy and the involvement of members in party decision-making. The evaluation and the creation of the manual is the basis for the invitation to talk about the mechanisms of internal party democracy in Latvian parties and the involvement of citizens in parties.

 

TRANSPARENCY OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

We published a repeated evaluation of the transparency of local authorities “Transparency Index of Local Authorities 2023“. The evaluation is published for the third year in a row, allowing to follow whether the municipalities promote their transparency, citizens’ and entrepreneurs’ awareness of their activities, what are the leading trends, examples of good and bad practices.

We raised awareness about civic participation in municipalities. We explained the tools for citizens’ participation: collective submission, citizens’ councils, participatory budget, public consultations, municipal referendums – in which cases to use these tools and what kind of feedback to expect from the municipality. We followed how local authorities implement these tools and we reacted to dishonest actions by them. We issued an opinion on the draft of the Riga State City Municipality Regulations, where it was planned to determine that 20,000 signatures of residents are required to initiate a public consultation, which is disproportionate, unreasonable and contrary to the purpose of public participation established in the Local Government Law.

 

CIVIC PARTICIPATION

We published the handbook “How to represent your interests at the national and municipal level“. In this guide, Delna explains the Law on Transparency of Interest Representation. In addition to the explanation of interest representation, it provides insight and recommendations on the use of formal public participation tools at the local government level (participation in advisory councils and commissions, collective submission, residents’ councils, participatory budget, public discussion).

We participated in the Conversation festival LAMPA with the discussion “Inauguration speech of the president of my country“. We invited the citizens of Latvia to take on the role of the president and deliver their inauguration speeches, experts – to evaluate the speeches they heard and analyze the public’s expectations – what important issues in society the president should pay attention to during his term of office.

We renewed the series of podcasts “Kā uz DELNAS“. In the series of podcasts in 2023, we will talk with experts about the fight against corruption, money laundering and the problems of civic participation in local governments.

We promoted the civic interest of young people in municipal work. On the Liepāja side, we implemented training on how to supervise the work of the municipality for a young person. Seven active young people between the ages of 16 and 19 learned the civic supervision of the municipality and wrote supervision reports on issues of interest to them (the reasons for the break in the renovation of the assembly hall of Nīca High School, the project “Liepāja – European Capital of Culture 2027”, as well as mental and psychological health services for young people in the city of Liepaja) and became participation experts.

In the “Student civic participation” project, we visited 14 Latvian schools and presented Delna’s methodological materials on the participatory budget implementation process in schools, led classes on civic participation and discussed opportunities for youth participation in local governments and at the national level.

We published a report on civic supervision, types of civic supervision and their practical application. Delna’s report analyzed the types of civic oversight and their practical application in relation to public procurement.

 

INTEGRITY IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR

We organized the discussion “Undermining the company’s reputation. What to do?” for deliberate attempts to undermine the reputation of companies. In preparation for the discussion, Delna conducted a survey of companies – the results confirmed that merchants still face efforts to undermine their reputation. At the same time, there are also challenges related to the possibilities to protect yourself, including in the public space, media environment and on the Internet.

 

In 2024, Delna will continue to work on realizing new projects in order to achieve the organization’s goals and implement tasks. Main expected activities:

 

ASSESSMENT AND PREVENTION OF CORRUPTION

We will follow the implementation of the Law on Transparency of Interest Representation. We will educate civil society and active citizens about the process of interest representation, interest representatives and representatives of public authorities about their duties and responsibilities. We will wait for the regulations prepared by the Cabinet of Ministers, which will more precisely determine the procedures for the representation of interests, as well as news about the development of the register and system, in order to introduce them to the wider public in simple language.

 

USE OF DATA IN REDUCING CORRUPTION

Development of recommendations for decision makers on the importance of open data for promoting good governance. Based on the tool “Companies that continue cooperation with Russia or Belarus and participate in public procurements” developed in the open data hackathon and the lessons learned, we will provide decision makers with recommendations on the necessary changes when making data public. The potential changes would contribute to the prevention of security risks in the geopolitical situation related to the entry of Russian and Belarusian goods and services into Latvian public procurement.

We will promote the availability of company data and the capacity of law enforcement authorities. We will analyze publicly available company data in cooperation with other countries to develop red flag indicators that will help indicate suspicious practices that may be related to corruption or attempted fraud. We will share Latvia’s practice in data openness. We will work with law enforcement authorities to improve their capacity and mutual cooperation at the national and European level.

 

WHISTLEBLOWING PROMOTION

We will evaluate the Law of Whistleblowing in Latvia. In cooperation with the State Chancellery, we will organize individual consultations with experts in Latvia and the Transparency International network in order to learn more about experience and adopt the best practices in the field of whistleblowing. Using public surveys, we will provide recommendations to decision-makers regarding identified gaps in regulatory acts.

A study of internal whistleblowing systems in the regions. Research on whistle-blowing systems in institutions in the regions, information campaigns and articles on citizen’s possibilities to raise awareness about whistleblowing and whistleblowing channels.

 

MONITORING THE WORK OF THE GOVERNMENT, SAEIMA AND POLITICAL PARTIES

We will develop an NGO European Parliament election program. We will meet with the candidate political organizations to provide an NGO perspective on what needs to be improved at the European Union level in order to influence the work of the European Parliament, including issues of transparency of the EU budget, measures to combat money laundering, corruption and the growing risks of artificial intelligence.

Regular representation of interests in the Saeima by necessity. Following up on the agendas of the Saeima commissions (especially the Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Commission, the Legal Commission and the State Administration and Local Government Commission), engaging in their work as necessary (providing proposals, opinions) and, if necessary, involving other CSOs.

We will publish an updated evaluation of internal party democracy. We will supplement the evaluation in the context of the electoral practice of the European Parliament regarding program development and candidate selection.

 

TRANSPARENCY OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

We will monitor public procurement processes. In cooperation with the partner organizations “Radi Vidi Pats”, “Liepājas novada fonds” and the Ogre County Civic Cooperation and Development Society, we will promote public involvement in the monitoring of public procurement by performing real monitoring activities in practice.

Development of the Transparency Index of Local Authorities 2024. In cooperation with the Lithuanian and Norwegian chapters of Transparency International, we will develop an internationally applicable methodology that could be used in the monitoring of municipalities in any country.

 

CIVIC PARTICIPATION

We will promote the civic participation of young people in municipalities. By implementing an international project together with partners in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Latvia, we will develop a research-based digital self-assessment tool that will allow every young person to identify the level of knowledge regarding civic participation, while youth workers and local governments will help analyze the opportunities for youth involvement. We will publish a report on the results of youth civic participation, guidelines and a dictionary for youth workers on how to promote civic participation.

Regular preparation and distribution of Delna’s newsletters, including special newsletters on anti-corruption, good governance, civic engagement research and statistics.

 

Read more about Delna’s implemented and concluded projects here->.

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