I. FOLLOW-UP TO ECRI’S SECOND REPORT ON LATVIA
Specialised bodies and other institutions
42. ECRI has been informed by the office of the Ombudsman that it plans to fine-tune its statistics. In fact, ECRI believes that more detailed figures which would include statistics on the ethnic or national origin, religion, language and nationality of the people with whom the Ombudsman is in contact, are needed. It would be interesting to look at, for instance, the percentage of ethnic minorities who complain of ill treatment from the police or in prisons to see whether they are over-represented in terms of the percentage they make up in the population as a whole. More generally, such data could be used to bring possible existing indirect discrimination against minority groups to the forefront. This would allow the Ombudsman to propose concrete measures aimed at combating this kind of discrimination14 . It is also planned that the Ombudsman take steps in order to improve accessibility of its office to the general public and to potential victims. For instance, the office will probably review its website, notably so as to make it accessible in several languages including Russian. Several awareness-raising campaigns about the powers of the Ombudsman are planned in 2008 including information packs, seminars, conferences and TV advertisement. Finally, the possibility of creating local branches of the Ombudsman throughout the country will also be envisaged.
Footnote 14 See also below, Monitoring the situation.
Monitoring the situation
84. ECRI notes with satisfaction that some scientific studies, polls and surveys were recently published in Latvia in fields of interest to ECRI, such as studies on interethnic relations, on integration, on intolerance, and on diversity in schools. Other studies have been or are being conducted for instance on the reasons why some non-citizens do not apply for citizenship33. Many of these studies have been carried out by the authorities themselves or at least ordered and financed by them as well as by international partners, including the European Union. ECRI believes that these studies are helpful in identifying the main problems in Latvia as concerns racism and racial discrimination. They should therefore be used as a basis for preparing policies and strategies for combating racism and racial discrimination in Latvia.
Footnote 33 On this last point, see below, Section II Specific issues – The situation of the Russian-speaking population – The issue of citizenship.
85. ECRI considers that it is important that studies which include statistics be undertaken to ascertain whether there is any direct or indirect discrimination against minority groups based on ethnic origin, religion, nationality (meaning citizenship), or language and if so, to find the best way of dealing with such discrimination. Particular attention should be paid to language discrimination as there are signs of direct and indirect discrimination on the labour market34 .
Footnote 34 See below, Section II Specific issues – The situation of the Russian-speaking population – The issues relating to the State Language.
86. The Data Protection Inspector is responsible for ensuring compliance with legislation which prohibits, in principle, the gathering of sensitive data, including information on racial or ethnic origin, although exceptions are possible. The Data Protection Inspector has taken action on several occasions to prohibit the holding of certain files based on sensitive data which did not have a legitimate aim, particularly where religious data is concerned. ECRI notes that the Latvian law allows for the collection of data broken down according to categories such as ethnic origin, language and religion when there is a legitimate aim, such as combating direct or indirect discrimination, when the people concerned give their explicit, free and informed consent and provided that the data remains anonymous. Studies of this type would make it easier to choose effective measures to rectify the problems identified.
87. ECRI strongly encourages the Latvian authorities to continue supporting and financing studies, surveys and polls on subjects which are of relevance to the fight against racism and racial discrimination, including work on interethnic relations, on integration, and how minority groups are perceived by the majority population.
88. ECRI recommends that the Latvian authorities consider the ways and means of introducing a coherent and complete data gathering system for monitoring the situation of minority groups by collecting relevant information broken down according to categories such as ethnic origin, language, religion and nationality. Such data should be gathered in different areas of policy, and the authorities should ensure that this is done in all cases with due respect for the principles of confidentiality, informed consent and the voluntary self-identification of persons as belonging to a particular group. These systems should also take into consideration the gender dimension, particularly from the point of view of possible double or multiple discrimination.
Document data: CRI(2008)2 adopted 29.06.2007, published 12.02.2008 Link: https://rm.coe.int/third-report-on-latvia/16808b58b3