European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Fourth report on Latvia [en] - [fr]- [lv]


Press Release – 21.02.2012

Latvian version

Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Latvia

Strasbourg, 21.02.2012 - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its new report on Latvia. ECRI’s Chair ad interim, Franšois Sant’Angelo, said that, while there have been positive developments, issues of concern remain: firstly important budget cuts affecting the Ombudsman and secondly the situation of the Roma.

Human rights associations and foundations are now authorised to represent individuals before court with their consent. Training of the police on non-discrimination and combating hate crime has been carried out. Measures have been taken in order to improve education in Latvian for children of ethnic minorities and to ensure that Roma pupils attend mainstream classes.

However, incitement to hatred is interpreted narrowly. The Ombudsman’s budget has been drastically cut. The Ministry for Special Assignments for Society Integration was dismantled. The policy on the use of the state language has been significantly hardened. The Roma remain one of the most discriminated groups in Latvian society. No measures have been taken in order to simplify the naturalisation process for children born in Latvia, from “non-citizen” parents after 1991. The calculation of “non-citizens”’ pensions raises concerns of unequal treatment.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, three of which require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

  • Endow the Ombudsman’s Office with sufficient funds and human resources, and improve its accessibility in different languages and in the different regions of Latvia;
  • Ensure a focus of the Policy Guidelines for the Integration of Society in Latvia on anti-discrimination and an open and integrated society, and provide for sufficient and timely financial resources, coordination and involvement of all relevant actors in the implementation of the guidelines;
  • Close any remaining special classes for Roma, integrate Roma pupils in mainstream classes and address the high representation of Roma children in special needs’ schools.

The report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Latvia in April 2011 [Press Release - 12.04.2011] and takes account of developments up to 22 June 2011.

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language, as well as xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.

For more information on ECRI: www.coe.int/ecri

Press contact: Stefano Valenti, Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 43 28, stefano.valenti@coe.int