Ombudsman’s opinion on “non-citizens of Latvia” (excerpts), 2008

In Riga

September 2008

To the chair of “For Human Rights in a United Latvia”
Group chair Jakovs Pliners, Riga, Jekaba Str. 11, LV-1811

Opinion in a verification procedure

The Ombudsman’s Office has considered your applications (received on October 16, 2007 and February 4, 2008, registered with Nos. 1.1.-5/11 and 26A-15A/176, respectively) on the differences in rights between citizens and “non-citizens” of the Republic of Latvia and on allowing “non-citizens” to practice as barristers.

(..)

3. Electoral rights

(..)

The belonging to a state, the participation in elections has been historically and legally connected with the institute of citizenship. Therefore, granting electoral rights to “non-citizens” would, on one side, bring this status closer to the status of a citizen and in the same time, would deepen this situation of uncertainty and the “specific legal status”, which is questionable from the point of view of the international law.

(..)

Summarising all the above, I have come to the following conclusions:

1. The aim of the state, as follows from the international law as well, is to reduce the number of stateless persons and also that of “non-citizens”. The status of a “non-citizen” was created as a temporary one and is not a variety of Latvia’s citizenship. Therefore, in choosing this policy, the aim of the state is not to merge the statuses of citizens and “non-citizens” by bringing them as close in rights as possible, but to motivate persons to obtain citizen’s status, which would give them a full-fledged legal link to the state and a wider amount of rights and duties.

2. The state of Latvia has created pre-conditions for the persons given the status of a “non-citizen” to be able to get Latvian citizenship. It is essential for the state to be welcoming to potential citizens and for them to be motivated to get citizenship. One of the ways for the state to reduce the number of the “non-citizens” is to inform and to motivate children’s parents to register their newborn children as citizens. An efficient way would be to simplify that registration, making it possible to conduct it simultaneously with registering the child.

3. The restrictions for “non-citizens” to be barristers, patent attorneys, to receive first-class license to be a guard, to obtain the status of a head or member of an administrative body in a detective company, are disproportionate.

4. The provision of Paragraph 1 of Section 3 of the Law “On Completion of Land Reform in Cities” that only the Latvian citizens are entitled to purchase land with residential buildings and orchards paying by privatisation or compensation certificates, when receiving non-purchased land by means of inheritance or gift, is a disproportionate restrictions of the rights of “non-citizens”. The restrictions for “non-citizens” on making deals with land established by Sections 20 and 21 of the law “On Land Reform in Cities of the Republic of Latvia” are disproportionate.

5. Currently, there are several fields, e.g., property rights, participation in local elections, employment etc., where the regulatory enactments provide for wider rights for the European Union citizens than for Latvia’s “non-citizens”. This creates a situation of establishing a wider specter of rights in Latvia for citizens of another European Union states than for Latvia’s “non-citizens”, who usually have a closer factual link with Latvia and have no legal link with another countries. Without prejudice to the state’s aim, mentioned in paragraph 1, to reduce the number of stateless persons and also that of “non-citizens”, it would be advisable, based on legally-political reasons, to re-evaluate the amount of rights of “non-citizens” and their legitimate interests each time, when Latvia grants some rights to the European Union citizens.

6. Based on legally-political reasons, one needs to reconsider the Law on the Status of a Long-term Resident of the European Community in the Republic of Latvia, which currently does not provide for granting the status of a long-term resident of the European Community to “non-citizens” without passing a separate examination.

Sincerely yours,
Ombudsman

R. Apsitis


Document data: September 2008. Link: http://cilvektiesibas.org.lv/media/attachments/04/10/2012/atzinums_par_pilsoNu_un.pdf (Latvian)

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