SECTION I: OVERVIEW OF THE SITUATION
A. International Legal Instruments
1. Latvia has ratified different international legal instruments relevant in the field of combating racism and intolerance. ECRI welcomes the signature by Latvia of the Additional Protocol N°12 to the European Convention on Human Rights. ECRI understands that the preparatory work for ratification of this instrument is underway and encourages the Latvian authorities to complete this process and ratify the Protocol as soon as possible.
B. Constitutional provisions and other basic provisions
8. In October 1998, a new section devoted to “Fundamental Human Rights” was added to the Constitution of Latvia. At the same time, the 1991 Constitutional law “on the Rights and Obligations of Citizens and Individuals” was repealed. The Constitution, as amended, provides for the principle of equality of all human beings before the law and stipulates that human rights shall be realised without discrimination of any kind (Article 91). ECRI welcomes the fact that the right to equality before the law is recognised to all persons. In ECRI’s view, however, an effective constitutional protection from discrimination should not be limited to the enjoyment of human rights but should encompass the enjoyment of all rights.
D. Civil and Administrative Law Provisions
27. Latvian legislation contains some very general provisions prohibiting
discrimination in different fields, such as employment and education. The new Labour Law of June 2001 contains more detailed anti-discrimination provisions9. However, there is no comprehensive body of anti-discrimination legislation covering all fields of life, including education, housing, access to public and social services, access to public places and contractual relations between individuals and providing for effective mechanisms of enforcement and redress. ECRI strongly encourages the Latvian authorities to consider the adoption of such a body of legislation. As will be discussed below10, ECRI stresses the fundamental role that a specialised body responsible for combating racism and intolerance could play in supervising the implementation of such antidiscrimination legislation. ECRI furthermore believes that the debate around the adoption of such legislation would stimulate research covering the phenomena of direct and indirect discrimination and discrimination in the private sphere as well as the extent to which these may be present in Latvia, as there appears to be a lack of awareness of these issues in society in general.
Footnote 9 See Employment below
Footnote 10 Specialised bodies and other institutions
28. Mention of nationality has been removed from identification documents, including non-citizen passports11, but there are reportedly delays in the issuance of the new documents. ECRI encourages the Latvian authorities to speed up this process.
Footnote 11 See Reception and status of non-citizens – “Non-citizens”, below
Document data: CRI (2002) 21; adopted on 14.12.2001, published on 23.07.2002 Link: https://rm.coe.int/second-report-on-latvia/16808b58b0 Also available in Latvian at http://rm.coe.int/second-report-on-latvia-latvian-translation-/16808b58b2