Article 1 – Right to work
Paragraph 2 – Freely undertaken work (non-discrimination, prohibition of forced labour, other aspects)
The Committee takes note of the information contained in the report submitted by Latvia.
1. Prohibition of discrimination in employment
As regards discrimination on grounds of nationality the Committee had previously noted that posts in the civil service were reserved for Latvian citizens and the law on the bar restricted access to the legal profession to Latvian citizens and EU nationals admitted to the bar in other EU member states.
However it also noted from that as of 2006 the general ban on discrimination and victimisation in labour legislation applied to the civil service. The Committee asked whether these changes affected access to public service employment for non-Latvian nationals.
According to the report the status of civil servants is regulated by the State Civil Service Law – civil servants fulfil functions related to the execution of public authority. There are other functions in public administration which are fulfilled by employees who are employed under the Labour Law or special laws. Within the public sector (central administration, local governments, central and local government-owned companies) only 6% are civil servants’ positions, 18% of employees in central government budget institutions are civil service positions. The changes made to legislation in 2006 do not affect the requirement that non-nationals may not be employed in the civil service. The Committee seeks further clarification that the posts reserved for nationals in the civil service are intrinsically linked to the exercise of public authority or security.
As regards lawyers/advocates it appears from the report and legislation that in order to become a sworn advocate in Latvia an individual must possess Latvian nationality. Citizens of other EU member states however may practice as advocates in Latvia under certain conditions. The Committee finds that the restrictions on non-Latvian non EU citizens from becoming advocates not to be in conformity with the Charter.
The Committee further notes from a European Commission against Racism and Intolerance report on Latvia 2012 that there are a substantial number of occupations in the private sector which require a certain proficiency in the Latvian language, the number of occupations on this list is expanding. Persons not possessing the proficiency required may be fined. The Committee seeks confirmation this language requirement is only imposed in cases of genuine occupational requirements and is proportional to the objective, as otherwise this would amount to indirect discrimination against non citizens.
The Committee notes that these restrictions may pose problems for a large number of residents, since non-citizens constitute some 20% of the population, neither most of them pre-independence Soviet citizens who now have neither Latvian nor any other nationality.
Document data: 07.12.2012 Conclusions XX-1 – Latvia – Article 1-2 Link: http://hudoc.esc.coe.int/eng/?i=XX-1/def/LVA/1/2/EN