Distribution of Latvia’s residents by year of birth and nationality (excerpts), 2019

Year of birthCitizen of Latvia“Non-citizen of Latvia”Alternative status by LatviaStateless person of LatviaRefugee in LatviaOthersTotal
201818,8463300118719,067
2017 21,073 5150127721,407
201622,36747150135222,782
201522,50277220336822,962
201422,34074201542922,869
201321,121141230241021,697
201220,255182170248720,943
201118,911229210344719,611
201019,069282170343819,809
2009 20,632 314150147621,438
200822,305371111345123,142
200721,56338071345122,405
200620,37340050644921,233
200519,63436242246020,464
200418,31035370146519,136
200318,79134150440919,550
200218,01636460139518,782
200117,44438220241118,241
Total1,775,839224,67049517415294,2192,095,549

Document data: https://www.pmlp.gov.lv/lv/assets/backup/ISVG_Latvija_pec_DZGada_VPD.pdf (Latvian), Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, data for 01.01.2019.

3rd Status Report on the Action Plan on the Situation of Roma (excerpts), 2018

II Implementation of the Action Plan

1 Participation of Roma and Sinti in electoral processes

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1.3 Participation of Roma and Sinti as candidates in elections

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Progress regarding the participation of Roma and Sinti as candidates in electoral processes

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In Latvia, the CEC provides statistics on the ethnicity of the candidates. However, many Roma candidates prefer not to declare their ethnicity. Two Roma candidates (1 man and 1 woman) from the political party From the
Heart to Latvia participated in the 2014 parliamentary elections. No Roma candidates participated in the local elections in 2017.231

231 Response to the ODIHR questionnaire from Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, received 12 February 2018.

[..]

2 Representation of Roma and Sinti

2.1 Representation of Roma and Sinti within political parties and platforms

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Roma and Sinti representation through mainstream political parties

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Latvia indicated that there is no single political party that specifically represents Roma as an ethnic minority or a vulnerable group. However, the political party Unity continuously supports initiatives of the NGO Roma Culture Centre. Additionally, local authorities from the municipality of Jelgava who are representatives of the Green Farmers Party regularly support local Roma initiatives.267

267 Response to the ODIHR questionnaire from Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, received 12 February 2018.

[..]

2.4 Consultative mechanisms

[..]

In Latvia, since 2016, the Latvian Roma Platform project, which aims to provide a platform for dialogue between all relevant stakeholders on the issue of Roma inclusion, has been implemented by the Ministry of Culture, with the support of the EU. Roma are also represented in consultative bodies such as the Minorities’ Consulting Council of the President of the Republic of Latvia, the Council supervising the implementation of Roma integration policy measures of the Ministry of Culture and the Consulting Council in Ethnic Minority Education Affairs of the Ministry of Education and Science.391

391 Response to the ODIHR questionnaire from Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, received 12 February 2018.


Document data: 11.12.2018. ISBN 978-83-66089-29-7 Link: https://www.osce.org/odihr/roma-sinti-action-plan-2018-status-report?download=true

Second survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in the EU (excerpt), 2018

Annex 2

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In the end, 200 respondents completed the questionnaire in Latvia. An assessment of the data quality confirms that all the measures did not produce robust and comparable results.

Main results

Looking at the Latvian sample, more men (61 %) than women (39 %) took part in the survey. The respondents are nearly equally distributed by their age. One in three respondents (31 %) have a higher education. Most of the respondents are in employment (67 %), while 33 % are either retired or in education.

Some of the main results concerning Latvian respondents’ experiences and perceptions of hate crime, discrimination and antisemitism are presented here.

  • One in ten respondents in Latvia (12 %) consider antisemitism to be a very big or a fairly big problem in the country. A majority (77 %) of respondents consider antisemitism to have stayed the same over the past five years. Most respondents (61 %) do not consider antisemitism on the internet as a problem and have not observed its change over the past five years (46 % said it stayed the same and 38 % said they don’t know).
  • In Latvia, 3 % of respondents experienced at least one type of antisemitic harassment in the 12 months before the survey, and 6 % experienced such an incident in the five years before the survey. 8 % of respondents said that a family member or a close friend experienced verbal insults or harassment because of being Jewish in the last 12 months.
  • Nearly one in three respondents in Latvia said they were worried about becoming a victim of verbal insults or harassment and of physical attack because of being Jewish in the 12 months before the survey (29 % and 39 %, respectively). Respondents expressed higher levels of worry regarding corresponding experiences of their family members – 40 % said they were worried about their family members being verbally insulted or harassed, and 49 % about being physically attacked because of being Jewish.
  • 5 % of respondents in Latvia said that they had felt discriminated against because of their age, 3 % because of their religion or belief, and 3 % due to their ethnic background.
  • In Latvia, three in four respondents (77 %) knew about the existence of the law that forbids discrimination based on ethnic origin or religion when applying for a job.
  • Two thirds of respondents (62 %) in Latvia were aware of a law forbidding incitement to violence or hatred against Jews.
  • One in ten respondents (11 %) in Latvia were aware of a law forbidding the denial or trivialisation of the Holocaust.

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Document data: Experiences and perceptions of antisemitism. Second survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in the EU, 2018, page 79 Link: http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/fra-2018-experiences-and-perceptions-of-antisemitism-survey_en.pdf page 79

ECRI 5th report on Latvia (excerpts on employment), 2018

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

I Common topics

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4. Integration

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Roma

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Employment

70. The very low levels of education described above, as well as frequently reported cases of anti-Roma prejudice and discrimination from potential employers result in high rates of unemployment among Roma, which in turn impacts negatively on their standard of living. The 2015 research project found that the ratio of the unemployed, both registered and unregistered, among (potentially) economically active Roma was around two-thirds (67.6%). While this can be viewed as an improvement compared to 2003 study results which had indicated a ratio of 90- 95%, the 2015 figure for Latvia’s overall population stood, in sharp contrast, at 9.9%.84

84 SIF (2015): 64.

71. In the context of high unemployment rates among Roma, the issue of
professional and vocational training and qualifications is of particular importance. From its discussions with the various relevant stakeholders, ECRI gained the distinct impression that the State Employment Agency (SEA) does not cooperate with other public entities and NGOs as much as is needed and expected when it comes to the difficult task of Roma integration into the labour market. A particular problem in this regard remains the absence of Roma-specific measures. While professional and vocational training courses are offered by the SEA to all unemployed persons, they usually require participants to have completed primary school up to 7th grade, a requirement which already excludes a large number of Roma (see § 66 above). According to SEA data of August 2015, the educational level of 67.4% of registered unemployed Roma was lower than the compulsory
primary education and 20% of them did not possess reading and writing skills.85 There is a lack of programmes suitable for Roma who have such limited education. Attempts to persuade the SEA to develop and offer courses for participants with lower educational backgrounds have so far not yielded any success.

85 Ibid.: 5.

72. ECRI recommends that the authorities ensure that the State Employment Agency offers professional and vocational training also for persons with very low levels of formal education in order to benefit those members of the Roma community who have been hitherto excluded.


Document data: CRI(2019)1 adopted 04.12.2018 published 05.03.2019 Link: https://rm.coe.int/fifth-report-on-latvia/1680934a9f

ECRI 5th report on Latvia (excerpts on language), 2018

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

I Common topics

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4. Integration

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“Non-citizens”

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56. Since ECRI’s last report, the number of “non-citizens” has further declined (326 735 persons in 2011, who then made up 14.6% of the population).63 This is partially due to demographic factors and mortality, as around 40% of “non-citizens” are 60 years or older. At the same time, the number of naturalisations has also declined but now stabilised at approximately 1 000 per year. According to the authorities, 98% of “non-citizen” applicants pass the necessary naturalisation exams, although not all of them on their first attempt. According to a 2016 survey carried out by the Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs, among “non-citizens”, the personal reasons why respondents did not want to apply for naturalisation have changed. In previous years, the Latvian language requirement and the fees had been mentioned as obstacles. These no longer feature strongly among the reasons given. Instead, the advantages of visa-free travel to the Russian Federation and eligibility for a then more advantageous Russian pension are highlighted by many respondents. In addition, many “non-citizens” refuse to apply for naturalisation out of principle, as they believe they should be granted Latvian citizenship automatically. These reasons and sentiments were also confirmed to ECRI by various representatives of “non-citizen” organisations.

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59. Further steps taken by the authorities to promote the naturalisations of “noncitizens” include information-days organised in municipalities with a high proportion of “non-citizens” among the residents, during which details of the naturalisation process are explained. The authorities, through the Society Integration Fund, also provide free Latvian language classes for “non-citizens” in preparation for their naturalisation exams,68 as recommended by ECRI in its last report.69 While ECRI commends the authorities for this measure, it also received information that these language classes, at times, fill up very quickly, resulting in insufficient capacity for all “non-citizens” who wish to enrol. This problem might grow, if the authorities’ efforts to promote naturalisation are successful.

68 The required level is B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
69 ECRI (2012): § 122.

60. ECRI recommends that the authorities ensure that sufficient places are available for “non-citizens” wishing to enrol in Latvian language courses free of charge in preparation for their naturalisation exams.

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Refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection

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76. With the onset of the migration crisis90 in Europe in 2015, the Ministry of Interior prepared an Action Plan to prepare and manage the reception and integration of an increasing number of migrants. This included cross-cultural awareness raising activities carried out by the Information Centre for Immigrants; support to local associations of volunteers engaging in support for newly arrived persons and the expansion of the Latvian language course programme. The Society Integration Fund also initiated a mentoring programme, in cooperation with the Latvian Red Cross. In addition, Riga City Council has implemented various positive integration support activities, together with NGOs, including training seminars for teachers on integrating refugee children in schools, awareness-raising for social workers and support to local initiatives. ECRI strongly encourages the national authorities to provide additional financial support to municipalities for integration activities.

90 As defined in ECRI’s Annual Report 2015.

77. The two core elements, on which national integration measures are based, are learning of the Latvian language and enhancing beneficiaries’ chances to find employment in order to be economically self-sufficient. To this end, the authorities provide 120 hours of free-of-charge language classes to refugees and persons with alternative status during the initial 4-months reception period. However, this only comes to a daily average of approximately 1.5 hours, which civil society interlocutors working with this group of persons told ECRI is far from sufficient, especially when the aim is to integrate beneficiaries into the Latvian labour market. Various experts expressed the view that 360 hours would be a useful level for a basic course.

78. Insufficient language skills are only one problem when it comes to finding employment. Lack of relevant and recognised professional qualifications is often another problem. Although refugees and persons with alternative status have access to education and to special support and vocational training programmes offered by the State Employment Agency on an equal footing with Latvian citizens, finding work remains a key challenge for many. In this context, ECRI notes that persons with international protection are not given a financial allowance to enable them to subsist, let alone integrate (see also footnote 89). In addition, ECRI also notes that the duration of entitlements to the allowance differs between refugees and persons with alternative status. ECRI would like to point
out that, because the socio-economic difficulties are the same for both
categories, such reduced benefits can pose an obstacle to successful integration and may conflict with EU protection standards.91

91 See: Article 29(2) of EU Directive 2011/95.

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80. ECRI recommends that the authorities increase significantly the number of hours of Latvian language tuition during the initial reception period for refugees and persons with alternative status. ECRI also recommends that persons with international protection should receive adequate financial assistance. Furthermore, ECRI strongly recommends that the Ministry of Health investigates allegations of racial discrimination in the health sector and issues a circular to all medical staff reminding them of their obligations under the Law on the Rights of Patients as well as applicable professional ethics in this regard.

II Topics specific to Latvia

1. Interim follow-up recommendations of the fourth cycle

81. In its fourth report, ECRI recommended as a priority recommendation that the authorities endow the Ombudsman’s Office with sufficient funds and human resources. It also recommended improving the accessibility of the institution in different languages and in the different regions of Latvia. In its 2015 interim follow-up conclusions, ECRI considered that this recommendation had been implemented.92 It had received information from the Ombudsman’s office that the trend of cutting its budget had been stopped and reversed. Furthermore, the accessibility of the Ombudsman had been improved, with the website now providing information in Latvian, Russian and English. The Ombudsman also accepts applications made in other languages. Instead of opening regional offices, the institution opted to conduct outreach activities, including regular and ad hoc visits to the different regions of Latvia, which, given the relatively small size of the country, it considers to be sufficient. During its 2017 visit to Latvia, ECRI received confirmation that the positive trend regarding the institution’s
budget has continued and ECRI trusts that the authorities will also ensure that this will be the case in the future.

92 ECRI (2015): 5.


Document data: CRI(2019)1 adopted 04.12.2018 published 05.03.2019 Link: https://rm.coe.int/fifth-report-on-latvia/1680934a9f