CEACR Observation on Latvia under ILO Convention No. 111 (excerpt), 2004

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2. Discrimination on the grounds of national extraction. The Committee regrets that the Government has not provided any information in reply to the Committee’s previous observation in which it had expressed concern over certain provisions of the State Language Act, 1999, which might have a discriminatory effect on the employment or work of the large Russian-speaking minority in the country. The Committee particularly recalls that section 2(2) of the Act provides that the use of language in private institutions, organizations and enterprises and the use of language with regard to self-employed persons shall be regulated in cases when their activities concern legitimate public interests. Legitimate public interest is broadly defined by the Act as including public safety, health, morals, health care, protection of consumer rights and labour rights, workplace safety and public administrative supervision. In this context the Committee notes the Regulations Regarding the Extent of Official Language Knowledge Required for the Performance of Professional and Official Duties, and Procedures for Testing Fluency of the Language of 19 June 2001. The Regulations assign levels of Latvian language proficiency to the various occupations and positions in the public sector (Annex I of the Regulations) and to some private sector occupations and positions which involve the exercise of certain public functions (Annex II of the Regulations). The Committee also notes that according to paragraph 5 of the Regulations the level of language proficiency for positions in the private sector other than those listed in Annex II shall be determined by the employers themselves. The Committee considers that these regulations provide guidance for the public sector in accordance with the Convention.

3. The Committee remains concerned, however, that the State Language Act and the implementing regulations may be interpreted and applied, particularly in the private sector, in a manner that would be indirectly discriminatory on the basis of national extraction. It also notes that the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination raised this issue with the Government in its concluding observations of 21 August 2003 (CERD A/58/18, paragraph 445). The Government is therefore once again requested to provide detailed information on the application of the State Language Act with regard to access to employment and occupation, including administrative and judicial decisions and sanctions imposed for violations of the Act. The Committee also requests the Government to provide information on any measures taken to assess the impact of the Act on Latvia’s ethnic and linguistic minority groups in respect of their employment and occupational opportunities; and on efforts made by the Government to provide Latvian language training to these groups.

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Document data: adopted in 2004, published in 2005. Link: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:2239333

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