CERD follow-up letter to Latvia on citizenship & Roma (excerpt), 2020

Paragraph 21 (a) of the Concluding Observations

The Committee welcomes the measures taken by the State party to facilitate access to the naturalization process, including the introduction of reductions and exemptions from naturalisation fees for certain vulnerable groups, the launch of a project by the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs in April 2019 to promote naturalization through awareness-raising campaigns on citizenship procedures, and the introduction of self-testing measures to help applicants pass their naturalization exams. While welcoming the steady decrease in the number of non-citizens in the State party, the Committee notes with concern that the number of those non-citizens who annually receive citizenship of Latvia or another country has remained stable.

It is also concerned that the reported yearly decrease in the number of non-citizens is to a certain extent attributed to non-citizens passing away. The Committee considers the response to this recommendation partially satisfactory and encourages the State party to strengthen its efforts to facilitate access to naturalization in order to further decrease the
number of persons without nationality.

Paragraph 21 (b) of the Concluding Observations

The Committee welcomes the adoption, in October 2019, of a law that enables children born in Latvia to two ‘non-citizen’ parents to automatically be entitled to Latvian citizenship by birth, which is deemed a positive step to prevent statelessness of such children and terminate the separate legal category of non-citizens in the State party. It also welcomes information on simplified acquisition of Latvian citizenship for older non-citizen children to encourage their citizenship registration. However, the Committee regrets that the State party has not taken any measures to extend automatic citizenship to all noncitizen children in Latvia who are currently under 15. The Committee considers that the response to this recommendation is partially satisfactory and requests that the State party provide, in its next periodic report, information on further measures taken to phase out the
separate legal category of non-citizens, as well as on their impact.

Paragraph 23 (d) of the Concluding Observations

The Committee notes the information on the measures taken by the State party to address the continued stigma and socioeconomic discrimination against members of the Roma community, in particular the provision of various tools and mechanisms for the Ombudsperson to combat discrimination, improve cooperation and dialogue with the Roma community and its representative organizations, and ensure their involvement in the development and implementation of relevant Roma integration policies and progammes. It also notes that, in 2018, the Latvian Roma Platform project III was implemented by the Ministry of Culture to combat Antigypsyism in society, foster intercultural dialogue between the Roma community and the general population, and exchange best practices on Roma integration at the local and regional level. The Committee regrets, however, that appropriate action has not been taken to implement its recommendation and considers the response of the State party unsatisfactory. The Committee reiterates its recommendation to reinstate the post of Roma consultant in the Office of the Ombudsperson and requests the State party to provide, in its next periodic report, further information and data on the alternative measures currently used to help increase visibility and consultations with the Roma community on issues concerning them.


Document data: 24.09.2020 CERD/101st session/FU/MJA/ks Link: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CERD/Shared%20Documents/LVA/INT_CERD_FUL_LVA_43389_E.pdf

Draft amendment to the Pre-election Campaign Law, 2020

To supplement the law with a Section 5.1, to read as follows:

Section 5.1. The Language of the Pre-election Campaign

The pre-election campaigning, the expenses for placement of which fall under expenses subject to restrictions for the amount of pre-election campaign expenses, as provided by law, shall be made in the official language only.”

To supplement the law’s Transitional Provisions as follows:

Transitional Provisions

5. Section 5.1. of the present law shall come into force on January 1, 2021″


Document data: the bill is numbered 780/Lp13. It was conceptually approved by the Parliament’s plenary on September 3, 2020. Three readings are ahead. The Latvian text of the amendment is available at https://titania.saeima.lv/LIVS13/saeimalivs13.nsf/0/2943494D663BA615C22585D10024170C?OpenDocument The text of the current law is available in English in an almost up-to-date version (the amendments of June 2020, not yet translated there, are procedural) at https://likumi.lv/ta/en/en/id/253543-pre-election-campaign-law . For the international law context, see ECtHR judgment in Şükran Aydin and Others v. Turkey http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/fre?i=001-116031

The Law on International Schools (excerpt), 2020

Section 1. Terms Used in this Law

The following terms are used in this Law:

1) an international school – an educational institution founded by a natural or legal person and registered in the Republic of Latvia, which implements in the Republic of Latvia an educational programme recognised by an other member state of the European Union or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, by the Board of Governors of the European Schools or by the International Baccalaureate Organization, in the official languages of the member states of the European Union and the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


Adopted 02.07.2020. Latvian text: https://titania.saeima.lv/LIVS13/saeimalivs13.nsf/0/6B83B33A45FFB721C22585A00048EF18?OpenDocument

“Being occupied as a privilege” (excerpt), 2020

[..]

The dominating language in the USSR was Russian, and it was heavily promoted in schools and public life at the expense of local languages.

[..]


Document data: 24.06.2020. Link: https://euvsdisinfo.eu/being-occupied-as-a-privilege_baltic_states/

Publisher’s notes: as the data from Latvia itself show, Latvian was dominating in Latvia’s schools at the end of Soviet rule. Languages of smallers minorities like Belarusian and Polish were restricted during the Soviet rule, indeed, – but not just in favour of Russian. Parents could also send their children to schools with instruction in Latvian. For some documents on education from Soviet Latvia, see in the Imagery section.

Constitutional Court judgment on kindergartens (excerpts), 2020

18. 3. [..] The Constitutional Court concludes that it follows from the letters of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Special Rapporteurs that those United Nations bodies did not have available, when elaborating those letters, a full information about the scope of the Regulation No. 716, which is being clarified in the present judgment. Those letters shall be considered as an invitation to dialogue between the Latvian government and the relevant United Nations bodies.

[..]

21. [..] Thus, in the circumstances of the present case, educatees belonging to the constituent nation and educatees belonging to national minorities do not form comparable groups.

Taking into account the above, the contested provisions in the relevant part are in conformity with Article 91 of the Constitution.


Document data: 19.06.2020. Case No. 2019-20-03. Link (in Latvian): http://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019-20-03_Spriedums-1.pdf