CESCR Concluding Observations on Latvia (excerpts), 2021

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;


Minority languages

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

Press release on a meeting with Latvian ambassador (excerpt), 2021

In the conversation, Ribeiro referred to the developments in December 2020 when Latvian journalists and publicists, reportedly collaborating with the online websites Baltnews and Sputnik (founded and/or owned by Rossiya Segodnya, the Russian state-run news company), were obstructed in their work by the State Security Service of Latvia who searched their apartments and briefly detained them. The two also discussed the most recent incident regarding the suspension of the rebroadcasting of seven of Moscow’s TV channels by the national Latvian telecom operator TET, reportedly due to the legal risks caused by charges of violating EU sanctions against its co-owner.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media underlined the need to enable all journalists to freely report on all matters of public interest in their country and abroad – in line with the international freedom of expression standards and the relevant OSCE commitments – adding that applying economic sanctions should not interfere with media freedom.

The RFoM suggested engaging the Latvian authorities and other stakeholders in joint efforts on how to align the national counteractions towards, in particular, hate speech, with the standards on media freedom. In this regard, the RFoM noted that further communication with concrete proposals would follow.

Document data: 01.02.2021. Link: https://www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/477241

Links to minority NGOs and QUANGOs in Latvia

Links on language-related documents and statistics

Language and demographics

Central Statistical Bureau. 2011 census results on languages https://www.csb.gov.lv/en/statistics/statistics-by-theme/population/census/search-in-theme/1442-home-latvian-spoken-62-latvian-population (press release); https://www.csb.gov.lv/en/statistics/statistics-by-theme/population/census/tables/tsg11-08/resident-population-latvia-main-language-spoken-home (tables); https://www.csb.gov.lv/en/statistics/statistics-by-theme/population/characteristics/search-in-theme/44-share-resident-population-riga-and-jurmala (maps of Riga and Jurmala cities); http://data1.csb.gov.lv/pxweb/en/iedz/iedz__tautassk__taut__tsk2011/TSG11-07.px/ (Resident population in statistical regions, cities and counties by sex, language mostly spoken at home and age group).

Central Statistical Bureau. 2017 survey results on languages https://www.csb.gov.lv/en/statistics/statistics-by-theme/population/search-in-theme/2747-latvian-mother-tongue-608-population-latvia

Education statistics

Ministry of Education and Science. 2019/2020 statistics on general education https://www.izm.gov.lv/lv/20192020-macibu-gads

Number of daytime schools by language of instruction https://www.izm.gov.lv/lv/media/4093/download (see “pa plūsmām”)

Enrolment of daytime schools by language of instruction https://www.izm.gov.lv/lv/media/4099/download

Evening and distant learning schools by language of instructionhttps://www.izm.gov.lv/lv/media/4111/download

Enrolment of evening and distant learning schools by language of instruction https://www.izm.gov.lv/lv/media/4111/download

Kindergartens by language of instruction https://www.izm.gov.lv/lv/media/4138/download (see “Iestāžu māc. val.”)

Ministry of Education and Science report on tertiary education in 2018. https://www.izm.gov.lv/lv/media/2137/download For demand to education in Russian, shown by private education practice, see pp. 71-73. Since 2019, due to forced gradual elimination of studies in Russian, the reports do not include information on the language of instruction

Central Statistical Bureau. IZG050. Language of instruction in pre-school http://data1.csb.gov.lv/pxweb/en/sociala/sociala__izgl__pirmsskolas/IZG050.px/

Central Statistical Bureau. IZG100. General full-time school enrolment by language of instruction http://data1.csb.gov.lv/pxweb/en/sociala/sociala__izgl__vispskolas/IZG100.px/

Central Statistical Bureau. IZG110. Teaching of [including so-called foreign ones, actually minority languages] foreign languages in the general schools http://data1.csb.gov.lv/pxweb/en/sociala/sociala__izgl__vispskolas/IZG110.px/

Constitutional Court judgments on minority education

http://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/wp-content/uploads/2004/08/2004-18-0106_Spriedums_ENG.pdf (2005, on restrictions of minority language use in public schools, see in particular para. 13, ignored in later CC case-law);

https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/web/viewer.html?file=/wp-content/uploads/2005/02/2005-02-0106_Spriedums_ENG.pdf (2005, on denial of co-funding to private minority schools); 

https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/web/viewer.html?file=%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2018%2F07%2F2018-12-01-12.-Saeimas-dep_latvie%C5%A1u-valoda-valsts-skol%C4%81s_ENG.pdf (2019, on additional restrictions of minority language use in public schools; see in particular ignoring international human rights bodies’ findings at para. 23.2);

http://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/web/viewer.html?file=/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Judgment-in-the-case-2018-22-01_EN-1.pdf (2019, on additional restrictions of minority language use in private schools);

 https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/web/viewer.html?file=/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-12-01_Spriedums.pdf (2020, on restrictions of minority language use in private tertiary education; full judgment available in Latvian only yet; press-release in English at https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/en/press-release/norms-that-provide-that-the-language-of-instruction-in-study-programmes-of-private-institutions-of-higher-education-is-the-official-language-are-incompatible-with-article-112-and-article-113-of-the-s/ );

http://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019-20-03_Spriedums-1.pdf (2020, on restrictions of minority language use in kindergartens; see in particular ignoring international human rights bodies’ findings at para. 18.3; full judgment available in Latvian only yet; press-release in English at https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/en/press-release/the-norms-that-determine-the-language-of-instruction-in-pre-school-institutions-comply-with-the-satversme/ , excerpt translated at http://minorities-latvia.info/2020/06/19/constitutional-court-judgment-on-kindergartens-excerpts-2020/ )

Constitutional Court rulings on other language issues

Case No. 2001-04-0103 – spelling names in identity documents https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/web/viewer.html?file=/wp-content/uploads/2001/06/2001-04-0103_Spriedums_ENG.pdf

Case No. 2003-02-0106 – language quotas for private radio and TV https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/web/viewer.html?file=/wp-content/uploads/2003/01/2003-02-0106_Spriedums_ENG.pdf

Case No. 2012-24-03 – fines for local councillors for allegedly insufficient skills in Latvian https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/web/viewer.html?file=/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2012-24-03_Spriedums_ENG.pdf

Case No. 2015-15-01 – language quotas for private radio https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/2015-15-01_Lemums_izbeigsana.pdf (LV only)

Case No. 2017-01-01 – fines for displaying a multilingual plate with a streetname https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2017-01_01_Lemums_izbeigsana.pdf (LV only)

Links on nationality-related documents and statistics

Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs statistics

Naturalization statistics: https://www.pmlp.gov.lv/en/naturalization (EN) https://www.pmlp.gov.lv/lv/naturalizacija (LV)

Other population statistics, which includes distribution of population by nationality (pēc valstiskās piederības), by ethnicity (pēc nacionālā sastāva) & nationality, by year of birth (pēc dzimšanas gada) and nationality, by municipality (pašvaldībās) & ethnicity, by municipality & nationality https://www.pmlp.gov.lv/lv/iedzivotaju-registra-statistika-2020-gada (LV only)

Kopā“=”Total”; “Latvietis“=”[Ethnic] Latvian”, “Krievs“=”[Ethnic] Russian”,”Baltkrievs“=”[Ethnic] Belarusian”, “Ukrainis“=”[Ethnic] Ukrainian”, «Polis»=«[Ethnic] Pole», «Ebrejs»=«[Ethnic] Jew», «Latvijas pilsonis»’= «Citizen of Latvia», «Latvijas nepilsonis»= «Non-citizen [a particular local legal status] of Latvia»

Constitutional Court rulings

Case No. 2010-20-0106, on pensions’ rights of “non-citizens”. Judgment in English https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/web/viewer.html?file=/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/2010-20-0106_Spriedums_ENG.pdf

Case No. 2009-94-01, on dual citizenship. Press release in English https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/en/press-release/a-case-on-dual-citizenship-has-been-adjudicated/

Case No. 2007-07-01, on citizenship of children born abroad. Decision to terminate proceedings, in Latvian https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2007-07-01_Lemums_izbeigsana.pdf

Case No. 2004-15-0106, on losing the “non-citizen” status. Judgment in English http://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/wp-content/uploads/2004/07/2004-15-0106_Spriedums_ENG.pdf

Case No. 2001-02-0106, on pensions’ rights of “non-citizens”. Judgment in English https://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/web/viewer.html?file=/wp-content/uploads/2001/02/2001-02-0106_Spriedums_ENG.pdf

Central Statistical Bureau statistics

Population by citizenship IRG109 http://data1.csb.gov.lv/pxweb/en/iedz/iedz__iedzrakst/IRG109.px/

Population by citizenship and ethnicity IRG110 https://data1.csb.gov.lv/pxweb/en/iedz/iedz__iedzrakst/IRG110.px/

Population by citizenship in regions and cities IRG130 http://data1.csb.gov.lv/pxweb/en/iedz/iedz__iedzrakst/IRG130.px/

Population by citizenship and country of birth IRG140 http://data1.csb.gov.lv/pxweb/en/iedz/iedz__iedzrakst/IRG140.px/