C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations
14. While noting the State party’s efforts to facilitate access by the Roma to economic, social and cultural rights, the Committee is concerned that members of the Roma community continue to face stigmatization, and widespread discrimination, especially in access to public services (art. 2(2)).
15. The Committee recommends that the State party intensify its efforts for the social and economic integration of the Roma, paying particular attention to Roma women and children. It recommends, in particular, that the State party strengthen its policy measures, including by adopting and implementing a national Roma integration strategy, with a view to addressing the socioeconomic disparities and discrimination faced by Roma people in accessing to public services, employment, adequate housing, education and healthcare. The Committee also recommends that the State party proactively address stigmatization and prejudices against Roma, including through awareness-raising campaigns.
16. The Committee welcomes the entry into force of the Law on the Discontinuation of the Non-Citizen’s Status for Children in 2019, which applies to children born after 1 January 2020, and the progress made by the State party in the naturalization of people residing in Latvia with no nationality who are considered to be in a separate legal category of non-citizens. However, the Committee is concerned that, as of 2019, there are still approximately 209,000 non-citizens in the State party, and that the discrimination against non-citizens persists inter alia in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights (art. 2(2)).
17. The Committee recommends that the State party intensify its efforts to facilitate access to naturalization and phase out the separate legal category of non-citizen thus reducing gradually and finally eliminating the number of persons without nationality. It also recommends that the State party take targeted measures to ensure that those who currently hold non-citizen status have non-discriminatory access to economic, social and cultural rights, including equality of opportunity or treatment in employment.
22. [..]. Despite the efforts by the State party, the Committee is concerned that:
(b) Certain groups continue to be disproportionately affected by unemployment, including Roma, non-citizens, persons belonging to minority groups, persons over 50 years of age, and persons with disabilities;
23. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(b) Continue its efforts to support Roma in gaining access to employment, including by implementing targeted positive measures and facilitating their access to technical and vocational training opportunities; and ensure that programmes promoting Roma’s integration into the labour market do not perpetuate their concentration in low-skilled jobs and in the informal economy;
(c) Take measures to ensure that the language laws and policies of the State party do not lead to direct or indirect discrimination against persons belonging to minority groups in gaining access to employment;
Right to education
46. The Committee notes with appreciation the increase in the number of Roma students completing compulsory primary education in the State party, and the increase in the salary of teachers in recent years, both in line with the Committee’s previous recommendation to that effect (E/C.12/LVA/CO/1, paras. 30, 31, 55, 56). However, the Committee remains concerned about insufficient availability of preschool education in some municipalities, discrimination against children belonging to minority groups and undocumented migrant children in education, the placement of persons with disabilities in so-called special schools and their exclusion from mainstream education, and the disproportionately high number of Roma children enrolled in special needs programmes (art. 13).
47. The Committee recommends that the State party: [..]
(e) As a matter of priority, expedite its efforts to address the overrepresentation of Roma children in special schools and special classes in mainstream schools, including a review of the classification criteria and the adoption of inclusive and integrated education programmes;
48. While noting the information provided by the State party delegation in relation to support provided for the teaching of and in minority languages, the Committee is concerned that current language policies in the State party may have discriminatory impact against persons belonging to minorities in the enjoyment of their economic, social and cultural rights, especially in the fields of education, employment, and access to services. The Committee notes the explanations provided by the State party delegation that the education reform itself is not discriminatory. However, the Committee remains concerned that the recent amendments to the Education Law and the Cabinet Regulation No. 716 of 21 November 2018 have discriminatory effect on minority groups and that they create undue restrictions on teaching of and in minority languages in preschool and primary education in both public and private schools (art. 15).
49. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to ensure that its language policies and laws do not create direct or indirect discrimination against persons belonging to minority groups in the enjoyment of their economic, social and cultural rights, and that they do not impede the ability of these persons to find employment in public and private sectors. It also recommends that the State party consider revising its language policies and laws in education in order to promote the teaching of and teaching in minority languages and to ensure that they do not affect negatively the educational performance of children belonging to minority groups.
Document data: E/C.12/LVA/CO/2, adopted 05.03.2021, published 08.03.2021. Link: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=E%2fC.12%2fLVA%2fCO%2f2