HRC Concluding observations on Latvia (excerpts), 2014

C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations

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Non-discrimination of “non-citizen” residents and linguistic minorities
7. The Committee remains concerned at the status of “non-citizen” residents and the situation of linguistic minorities. In particular, it is concerned about the impact of the State language policy on the enjoyment of the rights in the Covenant, without any discrimination, by members of linguistic minorities, including the right to choose and change one’s own name and the right to an effective remedy. The Committee is further concerned at the discriminatory effects of the language proficiency requirement on the employment and work of minority groups (arts. 2, 26 and 27).

The State party should enhance its efforts to ensure the full enjoyment of the rights in the Covenant by “non-citizen” residents and members of linguistic minorities, and further facilitate their integration into society. The State party should review the State Language Law and its application, in order to ensure that any restriction on the rights of non-Latvian speakers is reasonable, proportionate and non-discriminatory, and take measures to ensure access by non-Latvian speakers to public institutions and facilitate their communication with public authorities. The State party should also consider offering more Latvian language courses free of charge to “non-citizen” and stateless persons who wish to apply for Latvian citizenship.

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Protection against hate crimes
19. The Committee is concerned at reports of racist speech, acts of violence and discrimination against vulnerable groups, including Roma and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, and at a reported increase in incidents of violence against minorities in recent years. The Committee is also concerned at the inadequate application of the legislative framework against hate crime with respect to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. The Committee is furthermore concerned at allegations of insufficient hate crime recording, monitoring, investigation and prosecution (arts. 20 and 26).
The State party should
(a) Strengthen its strategies to fight against racially motivated crimes and counter the use of racist discourse in politics and in the media;
(b) Implement criminal law provisions aimed at combating racially motivated crimes, punish perpetrators with appropriate penalties and facilitate the reporting procedure for hate crimes;
(c) Define incitement to violence on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity as a criminal offence.

National minorities and education
20. While noting that 22 per cent of educational institutions offer bilingual education in Latvian and one of seven minority languages, the Committee is concerned at the prevailing negative effects on minorities of the transition to Latvian as the language of instruction, based on the Education Law, and the gradual decrease of measures in support of teaching minority languages and cultures in minority schools (arts. 26 and 27).
The State party should intensify measures to prevent the negative effects on minorities of the transition to Latvian as the language of instruction and in particular to remedy the lack of textbooks in some subjects and the lack of quality of materials and training in the Latvian language for non-Latvian teachers. The State party should also take further steps in support of the teaching of minority languages and cultures in minority schools.

Roma
21. The Committee is concerned that Roma continue to suffer from discrimination and social exclusion, especially in the areas of employment, housing, health and education. The Committee is particularly concerned that certain municipalities have continued to exclude Roma children by placing them in separate classes from other children, which prevents them from receiving an equal quality of education and limits their professional opportunities (arts. 26 and 27).
The State party should intensify its measures to ensure effective enjoyment by Roma of all the rights under the Covenant, without any discrimination, and take, in particular, immediate steps to eradicate the segregation of Roma children in its education system by ensuring that placement in schools is carried out on an individual basis, after due assessment of the child’s circumstances and capacities, and is not adversely influenced by the child’s ethnic origin or socially disadvantaged condition.

22. The State party should widely disseminate the Covenant, the two Optional Protocols to the Covenant, the text of the third periodic report, the written responses it has provided in response to the list of issues drawn up by the Committee and the present concluding observations, so as to increase awareness of the rights in the Covenant among the judicial, legislative and administrative authorities, civil society and non-governmental organizations operating in the country, as well as the general public. The Committee also suggests that the report and the concluding observations be translated into the other commonly used languages of the State party. The Committee also requests the State party, when preparing its fourth periodic report, to consult broadly with civil society and non-governmental organizations.


Document data: CCPR/C/LVA/CO/3, adopted 25.03.2014. Link: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR/C/LVA/CO/3&Lang=En (also available in Russian)

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