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State Audit Office objects to the idea of letting children use hunting weapons

15/02/2019 Drukāt šo rakstu

The State Audit Office does not support the changes planned to the Law on the Handling of Weapons that would permit the use of firearms in hunting already as of age sixteen. The proposal to include such a provision in the law has been promoted without a sufficient impact assessment, no consultations have taken place regarding it, and objections of several organisations have been received regarding non-conformity of such a provision with the principles of children’s right protection.

An opinion has been expressed in the invitation to support the provision controversially evaluated by the public that even younger children are involved in firing lessons of the Youth Guard. The State Audit Office believes that it is not correct to use this fact in argumentation for changes to the Law on the Handling of Weapons because when conducting the recent audit on activity and development of the Youth Guard the State Audit Office found that not everything that is necessary has been achieved to consider training of the Youth Guard to be of high quality. The State Audit Office emphasises that immediate essential improvements are necessary in the process of the Youth Guard training, including safety in organisation of classes.

Currently the Ministry of Defence is working on implementation of the recommendations issued by the State Audit Office and has undertaken to improve the quality of the training process of the Youth Guard by July 1.

Use of weapons by minors is a sensitive issue in the international law, and adults are responsible for making considerate and thoughtful decisions in the best interests of children.

The proposal on whether children in Latvia should be permitted to use any weapons should be thoroughly considered and supported by opinions of specialists representing various fields: health, social, protection of children’s rights and other fields. In this situation, it has not taken place. It is proven also by the objections of the Ministry of Health, the Ombudsman and non-governmental organisations.

The case-law recognises as well [1]that a child has not reached the level of understanding about the order of things and operation of mechanisms as an adult would, and he might not have such psychological resilience and ability to respond in unexpected dangerous situations as an adult would.

The State Audit Office invites the Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee of the Saeima to repeatedly assess further promotion of the provisions permitting the minors to use the hunting firearms included in the draft law.

[1] Judgment made by the Administrative Regional Court on 04.12.2014. in case No. A420429912, AA43-0647-14/13.

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