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Human rights in Latvia are generally respected by the government, according to the US Department of State and Freedom House.[1][2] Latvia is ranked above-average among the world's sovereign states in democracy,[3] press freedom,[4] privacy[5] and human development.[6] The country has a relatively large ethnic Russian community, which has basic rights guaranteed under the constitution and international human rights laws ratified by the Latvian government.[1][7]

However, human rights organisations have reported multiple problems. Especially non-citizens – including stateless persons – suffer from limited or no access to a broad range of rights. Also there were problems with police abuse of detainees and arrestees, poor prison conditions and overcrowding, judicial corruption, discrimination against women, incidents of violence against ethnic minorities, and societal violence and incidents of government discrimination against homosexuals.[1][8][9]

In March 2020, Latvia derogated from some of its obligations under ECHR[10] and ICCPR,[11] having referred to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Latvia in the international human rights system

As of end-2019, European Court of Human Rights has delivered 144 judgments in cases against Latvia (beginning from 2001); in 115 cases, it has found violations of the European Convention on Human Rights or its protocols.[12]

UN Human Rights Committee has adopted views in three cases involving Latvia, as at 2020, in two cases finding violation of ICCPR (Raihman v. Latvia and Ignatāne v. Latvia).[13] In 2001, Latvia has extended a standing invitation to Special Procedures of UN Human Rights Council.[14] In 1990, Latvia has acceded to UDHR in an atypical move, which is understood in jurisprudence as accepting the declaration as binding.[15]

Participation in basic human rights treaties

UN core treaties[16] Participation of Latvia CoE core treaties[17] Participation of Latvia
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Accession in 1992, declaration allowing individual complaints isn't made European Convention on Human Rights Ratified in 1997
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Accession in 1992 Protocol 1 (ECHR) Ratified in 1997
First Optional Protocol (ICCPR) Accession in 1994 Protocol 4 (ECHR) Ratified in 1997
Second Optional Protocol (ICCPR) Accession in 2013 Protocol 6 (ECHR) Ratified in 1999
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Accession in 1992 Protocol 7 (ECHR) Ratified in 1997
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women Accession in 1992 Protocol 12 (ECHR) Signed in 2000
Optional Protocol (CEDAW) Not signed Protocol 13 (ECHR) Ratified in 2012
United Nations Convention Against Torture Accession in 1992, declaration allowing individual complaints isn't made European Social Charter Ratified in 2002
Optional Protocol (CAT) Not signed Additional Protocol of 1988 (ESC) Signed in 1997
Convention on the Rights of the Child Accession in 1992 Additional Protocol of 1995 (ESC) Not signed
Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (CRC) Ratified in 2005 Revised European Social Charter Ratified in 2013
Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (CRC) Ratified in 2006 European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Ratified in 1998
Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families Not signed European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages Not signed
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Ratified in 2010 Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities Ratified in 2005
Optional Protocol (CRPD) Ratified in 2010 Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings Ratified in 2008

Latest published documents in reporting procedures

Experts' body State report Document by experts' body State response
Human Rights Committee 2012[18] 2014[19]
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 200?[20] 2021[21] .
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2017[22] 2018[23] .
Committee Against Torture 2018[24] 2019[25] .
Committee on the Rights of the Child 2013[26] 2016[27] .
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women 2018[28] 2020[29] .
European Committee on Social Rights 2020[30] 2020[31] .
Committee for the Prevention of Torture not foreseen 2016[32] 2017[33]
FCNM Advisory Committee 2016[34] 2018[35] 2014[36]
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance not foreseen 2018[37] 2019[38]

Overviews by human rights organisations

Amnesty International

According to Amnesty International, non-citizens – including stateless persons – suffer from limited or no access to a broad range of rights, including the right to participate in political processes, and the right to employment in the civil service and private sector. The majority of them were born or lived almost their entire lives in Latvia. Non-citizens also have restrictions on property ownership.[8]

Amnesty International reported racially motivated attacks against Romani people. Latvia lacks of comprehensive national legislation dealing with all forms of discrimination. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have faced discrimination by verbal abuse. There were reported allegations of deliberate physical ill-treatment of detainees by prison staff.[8]

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch reported in 2006 the attacks on peaceful lesbian and gay pride activists in Riga on July 28. Earlier, Riga City Council denied an application by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations for “Riga Pride 2006”. The banned march was targeted by crowds of anti-gay protesters.[9] In 2009 the gay march was allowed by Administrative Court of Riga.[39]

Freedom House

According to Freedom House, Latvia has wide civil liberties. Also political rights are in a high level, though the country suffered high-profile corruption scandals during 2007. The government generally respects freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of religion. Academic freedom is respected in law and in practice. Freedom of assembly and association are protected by law and in practice.[2] The highly competitive Latvian mass media are proving to be reliable sources of information and watchdogs against governmental abuses of power.[7]

While the constitutional guarantee of judicial independence is generally respected, corruption in the judicial and law enforcement systems continues to be a problem. Pretrial detentions are long, police use excessive force against detainees, and prisons suffer from overcrowding and inadequate medical care. Women enjoy the same legal rights as men, but they often face employment discrimination.[2]

Alleged discrimination suffered by the Russian-speaking community continues to be debated. Parliament has appointed an ombudsman responsible for protecting the rights of individuals in relation to the government. Two men were sentenced to prison terms in January 2007 for attacking a Rwandan citizen. The case marked the first sentencing under a law prohibiting instigation of racial hatred.[2]

United States Department of State

According to Human Right Report of United States Department of State, Latvia generally respects the human rights of citizens and the large resident noncitizen community. However, there were problems with serious police abuse of detainees and arrestees, poor conditions at police detention facilities, poor prison conditions and overcrowding, judicial corruption, obstacles to due process, official pressure to limit freedom of speech, violence against women, child abuse, trafficking in persons, incidents of violence against ethnic minorities, and societal violence and incidents of government discrimination against homosexuals.[1]

Specific issues of Latvia

Main articles: Non-citizens (Latvia) and Language policy in Latvia

After the restoration of independence in 1991, those who or whose ancestors had not been citizens of Latvia prior to its Soviet occupation in 1940 were not automatically granted citizenship. As of January 2011, non-citizens exceed 14% of the population. Russian language, being native for more than 37% of residents according to the 2000 census, is considered to be a foreign language in the Official Language Law; the possibilities to use it in communication with authorities and in public education were significantly reduced after 1991.

Like in many post-socialist countries, restitution of real estate has taken place in Latvia. Therefore, a considerable part of former tenants of public housing found themselves in private housing, with higher rent. Rent control for such dwellings was, after multiple extensions, phased out in 2007.

Since 2003, conflicts concerning freedom of assembly are often: on various occasions, gatherings of LGBT[40] and counter-meetings,[41] Remembrance Day of the Latvian Legionnaires[42] and counter-meetings,[43] meetings of the Russian School Defense Staff[44] were banned or limited.

Limitations to eligibility and their enforcement were in the focus of several ECtHR judgments in cases against Latvia (Ādamsons v. Latvia, Ždanoka v. Latvia, Podkolzina v. Latvia) and UN Human Rights Committee views in case Ignatāne v. Latvia.

Participation, economic, social and cultural rights in digits

See also: Demographics of Latvia

In the local elections of 2009, 79.7% of elected councillors indicated their ethnicity as ethnic Latvians, 65.5% were male.[45] In the parliamentary elections of 2014, 81 of 100 elected MPs were males, 71 indicated their ethnicity as ethnic Latvians.[46] For comparison, at the beginning of 2010 ethnic Latvians were 59.4% of the population (and 71.8% among citizens)[47] and women—53.9%.[48]

As of January 2021, the minimum monthly salary is 500 EUR and the minimum old-age pension is 149.6 EUR.[49]

The average calculated age pension in October 2020 was 403.41 EUR.[50] Average net salary in 2019 was EUR 793 (varying from EUR 565 in Latgale to EUR 883 in Riga).[51]

The unemployment rate at the end of November 2020, was 7.4% according to the State Employment Agency, varying between 5.7% in Riga region and 15.1% in Latgale.[52] Ethnic minorities and persons not indicating ethnicity composed 45.5% of the unemployed in the end of December 2014.[53]

Life expectancy at birth was estimated as 75.4 years in 2020.[54] In 2011, there were 6.3 outpatient visits to physicians per capita, 58.8 hospital beds and 39.1 physicians per 10 000 population.[55]

Pre-school education and nine-year basic education are compulsory. Secondary education (forms 10-12) is free in public schools. However, according to the Ombudsman, the constitutional principle of free education is violated by the practice of parents having to buy textbooks.[56] According to the 2000 census, 13.9% of those aged 15 and older and giving answers on own education had obtained higher education.[57] In 2011, 94.6% of basic school (9 years) graduates had continued their studies, as well as 63.6% of secondary school graduates had done.[58]

Human rights legislation and offices

National law

Human rights are granted by Chapter VIII of the Constitution[59]—"Fundamental Human Rights", adopted in 1998 and consisting of 28 articles. It includes both first-generation and second-generation human rights as well as some third-generation human rights: rights of persons belonging to ethnic minorities and right to live in a benevolent environment. Article 116 defines goals allowing limitations of certain human rights: these are the rights of other people, the democratic structure of the state, public safety, welfare and morals.

Until adopting this chapter the core law in the field of human rights was the Constitutional Law "The Rights and Obligations of a Citizen and a Person", adopted in 1991.[60]

Institutions

International rankings

See also

Literature

References

  1. ^ a b c d "2008 Human Rights Report: Latvia". United States Department of State. 2009-02-25. Archived from the original on 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2009-06-09.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Map of Freedom 2008". Freedom House. 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-05-15. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  3. ^ a b "The Economist Intelligence Unit's Index of Democracy 2008" (PDF). The Economist. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
  4. ^ a b "Press Freedom Index 2010". Reporters Without Borders. 2010. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  5. ^ a b "The 2007 International Privacy Ranking". Privacy International. 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
  6. ^ a b "Statistics of the Human Development Report". United Nations Development Programme. 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
  7. ^ a b c "Country Report 2008 Edition". Freedom House. 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-06-24. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  8. ^ a b c "Amnesty International Report 2009". Amnesty International. 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-06-10. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
  9. ^ a b "Latvia: Investigate Attacks on Gay Activists". Human rights watch. 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
  10. ^ Note verbale
  11. ^ Depositary Notification
  12. ^ Violations by Article and by State - 1959-2019
  13. ^ "UN Treaty Body DJurisprudence". Retrieved 2020-03-31.
  14. ^ Countries having extended a standing invitation to Special Procedures
  15. ^ Burbergs M., Kučs A. Vispārējai cilvēktiesību deklarācijai – 60 // Jurista vārds, 23.12.2008.
  16. ^ UN human rights treaties database
  17. ^ CoE human rights treaties database
  18. ^ "report CCPR/C/LVA/3" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-25. Retrieved 2013-02-23.
  19. ^ Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee on the third report of Latvia, CCPR/C/LVA/CO/3
  20. ^ State Report
  21. ^ [https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=E%2fC.12%2fLVA%2fCO%2f2 Concluding observations by CESCR
  22. ^ State Report
  23. ^ Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  24. ^ "Report CAT/C/LVA/6". Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  25. ^ Concluding observations CAT/C/LVA/CO/6
  26. ^ Report CRC/C/LVA/3-5
  27. ^ Concluding Observations by CRC
  28. ^ State Report under CEDAW, 2018
  29. ^ Concluding comments by CEDAW, 2020
  30. ^ 6th State report under ESC(R), on Articles 1, 9, 10, 15, 18§1, 18§4, 20, 24 and 25
  31. ^ ECSR Conclusions 2019 Latvia (adopted 2020), on Articles 7, 8, 16, 17, 19, 27 and 31
  32. ^ Report to the Latvian Government on the visit to Latvia carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 12 to 17 September 2013
  33. ^ Response of the Latvian Government to the report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) on its visit to Latvia from 12 to 22 April 2016
  34. ^ 3rd state report on FCNM
  35. ^ 3rd FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion
  36. ^ Comments of the government on the 3rd FCNM Advisory Committee Opinion
  37. ^ ECRI Fifth Report on Latvia
  38. ^ Government comments on the ECRI Fifth Report on Latvia
  39. ^ Gays Without Borders: Baltic Pride Saved After Court Lifts Council Ban
  40. ^ "Neatļauj rīkot gājienu "Rīgas praids 2006"". Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  41. ^ Jaunupu sauc pie atbildības, Ulmi – ne
  42. ^ Cilvēktiesības Latvijā 2004. g.—Rīga: LCESC, 2005. ISBN 9984-9707-7-9.—35. lpp. Archived January 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ "Антифашисты возложат венки". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  44. ^ Cilvēktiesības Latvijā 2004. g.—Rīga: LCESC, 2005. ISBN 9984-9707-7-9.—34.—35. lpp. Archived January 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ Choose table PR10. ELECTED LOCAL GOVERNMENT MEMBERS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA BY AGE, SEX, ETHNICITY AND EDUCATION QUALIFICATION Archived 2012-11-29 at the Wayback Machine The Central Statistics Bureau of Latvia website
  46. ^ Statistical data on MPs elected in 2014(in Latvian)
  47. ^ Population of Latvia by ethnicity and by nationality, 01.01.2010(in Latvian)
  48. ^ Choose table IE03 POPULATION BY SEX AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia website
  49. ^ Izmaiņas sociālajā jomā 2021. gadā Ministry of Welfare(in Latvian)
  50. ^ [=1&years=2020 «Pensiju (pabalstu) vidējais piešķirtais apmērs pa mēnešiem», Sociālā apdrošināšana, 2019] (in Latvian)
  51. ^ DSG050. Average monthly wages and salaries by statistical region (in English)
  52. ^ Bezdarba statistika(in Latvian)
  53. ^ See 2. Bezdarbnieka statistiskais portrets(in Latvian)
  54. ^ Latvia//The World Factbook
  55. ^ "VA15, VA17, VA19". Archived from the original on 2012-11-15. Retrieved 2009-02-14.
  56. ^ Latvijas Republikas tiesībsarga ziņojums par tiesību iegūt pamata un vispārējo vidējo izglītību bez maksas nodrošināšanu pašvaldības dibinātās izglītības iestādēs[permanent dead link](in Latvian)
  57. ^ Choose "Results of Population Census 2000 in brief" and "EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT OF POPULATION " Archived 2008-03-21 at the Wayback Machine
  58. ^ "See IZ18". Archived from the original on 2012-11-15. Retrieved 2009-02-14.
  59. ^ "Constitution (Satversme) of the Republic of Latvia". Archived from the original on 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  60. ^ Constitutional Law "The Rights and Obligations of a Citizen and a Person" Archived 2009-03-05 at the Wayback Machine//B. Bowring Report of a Second Mission to the Republic of Latvia on behalf of FIDH and Bar of England and Wales HRC, 1994—see Appendix 4, p. 71 (p. 41 in .pdf document)
  61. ^ Homepage of the first committee's chairperson in Parliament's website Archived 2009-03-21 at the Wayback Machine(in Latvian)
  62. ^ Saeima Committees
  63. ^ About Constitutional court
  64. ^ Composition of the Cabinet of Ministers in 1993—1994 Archived 2009-07-12 at the Wayback Machine(in Latvian)
  65. ^ Composition of the Cabinet of Ministers in 1994—1995 Archived 2009-07-12 at the Wayback Machine(in Latvian)
  66. ^ Regulations on representing the Cabinet of Ministers before International Human Rights Organisations
  67. ^ Noteikumi par Valsts cilvēktiesību biroju Archived 2011-05-20 at the Wayback Machine(in Latvian)
  68. ^ "Worldwide Quality of Life - 2005" (PDF). The Economist. www.economist.com. 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
  69. ^ "Global Corruption Report 2007". Transparency International. 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
Public authorities
Intergovernmental organizations
Other states
NGOs from Latvia
International NGOs