At the end of his visit to the Baltic States, after visiting Lithuania and Estonia,
Dr Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre
in Jerusalem, has launched a project "Operation: Last Chance" in Riga.
Latvia believes that there is no statute of limitation for
war crimes and crimes against humanity. Therefore, anyone who
has committed such crimes must be called to account in accordance
with the law. Latvia aims at objective investigation into the
crimes committed under totalitarian regimes, regardless of
the political views of the person having committed the crime.
It was already at the time of restoration of independence that
the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia adopted a Declaration "On
Denouncing and the Inadmissibility of Genocide and Anti-Semitism
in Latvia", expressing regret about the involvement of a number of Latvians in these crimes.
The Latvian Prosecutor General's Office has announced that
the criminal cases of K. Kalejs and K. Ozols, who were charged
with war crimes committed during World War II, are not closed.
The Latvian Government's efforts in Holocaust education, research
and remembrance have been welcomed by several countries, including
the USA and Israel.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is of the opinion that Efraim
Zuroff as an individual or as head of the Jerusalem Simon Wiesenthal
Centre has the right to perform activities in Latvia if they
do not contravene Latvian legislation. Latvia holds the view
that the general claims that are addressed to it do not help
the activities being undertaken by the Latvian law enforcement
institutions. Claims such as these do not facilitate uncovering
of the truth, as they are too generalised and inconcrete and
are not based on specific facts.
The Government of Latvia is doing its best to not only denounce
war criminals, but also to educate the public in order to prevent
a repeat of such crimes. Special attention is being paid to
education on the Holocaust. The activities of the History Commission
are focused on investigating and explaining the Nazi and Communist
regimes. The highest award of Latvia, the Three-Star Order,
has been conferred on the saviours of Jews in Latvia. The Bikernieki
memorial has been restored, and the Riga City Council has allocated
funding for the reconstruction of the burial-ground for the
Nazi victims in Rumbula. At present the responsibility for
investigations into crimes committed under the Nazi and Communist
regimes have been assigned to Colonel G. Rutkis, Head of the