CEACR Direct Request to Latvia under ILO Convention No. 111 (excerpt), 1999

2. The Committee notes that, in July 1999, the Government adopted but did not promulgate a State Language Act requiring the use of the Latvian language in employment-related activities that would extend not only to the public service, but also to private enterprise and self-employment. The Act was to be considered for revision in December 1999. Noting that section 4 of the Latvian Constitution of 15 February 1922 establishes Latvian as the official state language, the Committee points out that such a provision does not, per se, contravene the Convention. However, language restrictions that are intended to or in fact operate to deprive ethnic minority groups of equality of opportunity and treatment in respect of their employment and occupation, including access to education and employment, occupational guidance and vocational training, would constitute discrimination on the ground of national extraction. A number of provisions contained in the draft State Language Act contain employment-related restrictions that could be found to place linguistic minorities in Latvia at a disadvantage with regard to their employment activities. These include sections 6(2) and (3) and 8(2) and (3), which require private institutions, organizations and companies, and their employees, and self-employed persons to use the state language, inter alia, where their activities relate to the public interest. The Committee notes that article 114 of the Latvian Constitution provides that “persons belonging to ethnic minorities have the right to preserve and develop their language and their ethnic and cultural identity”. The Committee expresses the hope that the Government will reconsider the draft State Language Act in light of the analysis set forth above. The Government is asked to indicate the manner in which the relevant constitutional provisions, including articles 91 and 114, are applied to prevent and eliminate discriminatory practices with regard to Latvia’s ethnic and linguistic minority groups. Further, the Government is requested to provide a copy of the final version of the State Language Act as soon as it is adopted.

Document data: adopted in 1999, published in 2000. Link: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:2181432

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