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COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION CONSIDERS THE REPORT OF LATVIA

9 August 2018

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the combined sixth to twelfth periodic report of Latvia on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Presenting the report, Andrejs Pildegovics, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, explained that the articles of the Constitution were laconic and thus allowed for their dynamic interpretation, taking into account the evolution in legal thought, and changes in context and in international law.  For example, article 91 of the Constitution contained equality and non-discrimination clauses and established the general prohibition of discrimination.  In light of the consequences of the occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, the promotion and protection of the Latvian language was established at the constitutional level.  The purpose of the Government’s language policy was twofold: to preserve the Latvian language and to provide all necessary means for the integration of national and linguistic minorities in society, while ensuring their right to use their native language.  Speaking of non-citizens, Mr. Pildegovics noted that the protection provided to them extended beyond that which was required by the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.  The only substantive difference between Latvian citizens and non-citizens was the right to vote and to work in civil service, or to occupy posts in national security.  The Government devoted increased attention to the identification, investigation and adjudication of hate crimes or racially motivated crimes, Mr. Pildegovics noted. 

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts noted a series of positive changes in the country’s legal framework since 2004, such as the improved definition of racial discrimination, and the introduction in the Criminal Code and the Administrative Offences Code of liabilities for hate crimes and ethnic hatred.  The Experts furthermore inquired about guarantees for non-discrimination, the functioning and mandate of the Ombudsman’s Office, prevention of extremism and hate speech, including by political leaders, the annual march honouring Waffen-SS Latvian Legion veterans, the status of non-citizens (most of them ethnic Russians) and of the children of non-citizen parents, the protection of asylum seekers and refugees, including of unaccompanied minors, the use of minority languages and the State language policy, education in minority languages, the situation of the Roma, interaction with civil society, training for the judiciary and police, and the political representation of minorities and of women.  

In concluding remarks, Yanduan Li, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Latvia, thanked the delegation for the large amount of information provided, and commended the progress made in the implementation of the Convention in Latvia. 

On his part, Mr. Pildegovics thanked the Committee for a stimulating exchange, and their expertise and interest in Latvia.  He assured that the Committee’s recommendations would be studied by Government experts, and the Office of the Ombudsman. 

Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for their constructive participation in the dialogue.  The Committee would continue to develop constructive relations with Latvia. 

The delegation of Latvia included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Welfare, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Permanent Mission of Latvia to the United Nations at Geneva.


The Committee will next meet today at 3 p.m. to consider the combined twelfth and thirteenth periodic report of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CERD/C/BIH/12-13).


Report

The Committee has before it the combined sixth to twelfth periodic report of Latvia: CERD/C/LVA/6-12.

Presentation of the Report

ANDREJS PILDEGOVICS, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, said that Latvia attached high priority to the fulfilment of its international commitments, and to the implementation of the well-established principles of international human rights law.  The Constitution was characterized by three key concepts: the rule of law, protection of human rights without discrimination of any kind, and the binding nature of international treaties.  The articles of the Constitution were laconic and thus allowed for their dynamic interpretation taking into account the evolution in legal thought, and changes in context and in international law.  For example, article 91 of the Constitution contained equality and non-discrimination clauses and established the general prohibition of discrimination.  The lawmakers had intended to leave that provision open in order to cover all grounds of discrimination that may appear in the future.  In light of Latvia’s unique history, and to overcome the consequences of the occupation, the promotion and protection of the Latvian language was established at the constitutional level.  During Soviet occupation, Latvia and the other Baltic States had survived massive ethno-demographic changes, such as mass deportations to Siberia and forced immigration from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, coupled with an aggressive Russification policy aimed against the use of the Latvian language.  Any reduction of the use of the Latvian language in the territory of Latvia posed a threat to the democratic structure of the State.  At the same time, the use of the Latvian language was not regulated in unofficial communication, in internal communication of national and ethnic groups, or in services, ceremonies, rituals and other religious activity of religious organizations.  In light of those considerations, the purpose of the Government’s language was twofold: to preserve the Latvian language and to provide all necessary means for the integration of national and linguistic minorities in society while ensuring their right to use their native language. 

The socio-demographic changes forced by the Soviet regime had also left their marks on the population residing in Latvia.  Consequently, after the renewal of independence, the authorities had to reintroduce the legal framework on citizenship.  There were persons who had been recognized as Latvian citizens under the 1919 Law on Citizenship, as well as their descendants.  At the same time, large numbers of persons who had immigrated to Latvia during the period of Soviet occupation and had lost their Soviet citizenship after the dissolution of the Soviet Union had never been citizens of Latvia.  Henceforth, a special temporary status had been established for former Soviet citizens residing in Latvia (“non-citizens”).  The protection provided to non-citizens in Latvia extended beyond that which was required by the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.  Non-citizens enjoyed State protection home and abroad, along with most other rights.  They were granted permanent residence in Latvia and they enjoyed the same social guarantees as Latvian citizens.  The only substantive difference between Latvian citizens and non-citizens was the right to vote and to work in civil service, or to occupy posts in national security.  Such practice did not differ from the practice of other countries. 

Although the economic crisis of 2008-2009 had hit Latvia hard, it had not changed its commitment to the protection of human rights.  Since the presentation of its previous report to the Committee, Latvia had faced new challenges, such as the recent influx in Europe of large numbers of asylum seekers, military conflicts, and the proliferation of hybrid threats and information warfare.  Nevertheless, the Government had consistently worked towards reducing the number of non-citizens through the amendments to the Law on Citizenship in 2013.  Latvia continued to implement its integration policy, with a special focus on socially disadvantaged groups, particularly Roma and youth.  The Government also devoted increased attention to the identification, investigation and adjudication of hate crimes or racially motivated crimes.  Amendments to the Law on Education of 2018 aimed to promote a consolidated society and equal opportunities for all school graduates, avoiding any form of discrimination.  The principal aim was to ensure that all school graduates had equal command of the Latvian language for a successful entry in the labour market.  At the same time, the national minority education programmes would continue. 

Questions by the Country Rapporteur

YANDUAN LI, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Latvia, observed that Latvia’s periodic report was 10 years overdue.  She noted a series of positive changes in the country’s legal framework since 2004, such as the improved definition of racial discrimination, and the introduction in the Criminal Code and the Administrative Offences Code of liabilities for hate crimes and ethnic hatred.   

How did the State party guarantee anti-racial discrimination in all relevant laws without an all-encompassing law prohibiting racial discrimination?  Latvia had the definition of racial discrimination only in the labour law.  How could international treaties become domestic law?  Could an international treaty be directly applied in national courts, or other judicial and administrative mechanisms?  How did the State party implement anti-discrimination policies and programmes in practice and what were achieved results? 

Ms. Li welcomed the fact that the Office of Ombudsman held A status.  However, it had no separate budget for equality and diversity issues, and its anti-discrimination capacity had decreased.  In March 2015, its legal equality department had closed down, and since 2007 the Ombudsman had had no discrimination cases brought before civil and administrative courts.  In 2011, a Roma person was hired by the Ombudsman’s Office to be in charge of the promotion of Roma integration.  However, in 2017 that post had been cancelled.  Did the State party plan to introduce immunity for the Ombudsman?  Did it plan to provide a more adequate budget for the Office of the Ombudsman? 

Noting positive changes in legislation to combat and prevent hate crimes, Ms. Li inquired about the amendments to the Criminal Code in 2014, namely about the punishment of hate speech on the Internet.  Official data about hate crimes and incitement to hatred was limited.  On the other hand, unofficial data compiled by civil society indicated a higher number of crimes motivated by race and xenophobia than those that came to the attention of national authorities.  There remained a very serious concern about the unwillingness of victims to report hate crimes to law enforcement authorities.  What measures had the State party taken to support victims in practice?  Was there any action plan or dedicated State funding to combat online hate?  The State party should also pay serious attention to hate speech by politicians. 

Despite criticism, on 16 March 2017 the annual march honouring Waffen-SS Latvian Legion veterans had taken place in Riga.  Why did the Government allow such activities in spite of objections from opponents of Nazism? 

Turning to non-citizens, Ms. Li reminded that a number of steps still had to be undertaken to achieve full implementation of the Convention relating to the prevention of statelessness and access to nationality.  What was the status of non-citizens (the majority of them ethnic Russians) as they were neither stateless nor foreigners?  What rights were they entitled to?  What were obstacles to their naturalization and how did the Government plan to tackle that issue? 

The recent amendments to the Law on Citizenship did not automatically grant Latvian citizenship to children of non-citizens.  Did the State party plan to improve its legislation in line with the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness? 

According to the Asylum Law, there were two types of legal status: refugee and alternative status.  Many people had felt compelled to leave Latvia for other European Union countries, such as Sweden or Germany, in search of livelihood and survival.  Many refugees had reportedly experienced xenophobia and negative attitudes towards foreigners.  Anti-immigrant sentiments in Latvia were reportedly widespread.  What was the country’s comprehensive strategy and programme for the integration of beneficiaries of international protection?  Was there any specific fund allocated for the integration activities? 

Ms. Li reminded that in 2014 the Human Rights Committee had expressed concern about the gradual decrease of measures to support teaching in minority languages in minority schools, particularly affecting the Russian-speaking population.  Had any improvements taken place since then?  Had the State party consulted any minority groups when drafting amendments to the Education Law of 2018? 

Questions by Other Experts

GUN KUT, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Follow-up to Concluding Observations, reminded that Latvia’s previous periodic report had been submitted in 2003, at a time when the Committee did not have a practice of asking for a follow-up report.  He informed that the State party would be expected to submit an interim report on several issues selected by the Committee within one year and a half.

An Expert reminded that the Latvian Constitution dated back to 1922, and that the Government had only strengthened it by adding several clauses on human rights.  How many cases of racial discrimination had been detected, and how many had been processed?  What institution was responsible for collecting such cases?  Could the Ombudsman receive complaints of racial discrimination?  How was the burden of proof applied in such cases?

Experts noted that it was very difficult to find the definition of racial discrimination in Latvia’s legislation, and that Latvia tended to encourage the integration and assimilation policy. 

Extremism and hate speech seemed to be on the rise in the European Union.  What were the implications for Latvia in light of the upcoming elections?  Certain politicians were using racism and xenophobia to foster fear in order to win elections.  How did the State party plan to implement the International Decade for People of African Descent?

Could the delegation comment on the amendments to the Civil Procedure Law of 2016 which abrogated the compulsory use of interpreters and translators in civil courts

The number of employed Roma persons was three times lower than the average in Latvia.  There was also a continuation of Roma segregated schools, as reported by the Latvian Ombudsman. 

Turning to language issues, one Expert reminded that the State language (Latvian) was imposed both in public and private sectors.  To what extent were schools bilingual?  Did private schools teach in minority languages?  Why was it so difficult to access education in Russian when there were so many Russian speakers?    

Was a person born in Latvia to non-citizens also considered a non-citizen?  Why had non-citizens lost their original citizenship?  Could foreigners who did not master the Latvian language naturalize?  Did non-citizens have political representation or representation in the Office of the Ombudsman?  What happened with persons who also held the citizenship of Russia and Ukraine?    

Latvia’s bilateral agreements on visa regimes allowed Latvian citizens to travel to about 90 countries without a visa, whereas non-citizens could travel to only 38 countries.  Could the State party make a commitment to completely eradicate the risk of statelessness

Experts also inquired about the policy on gender equality at the local level, and about the very low level of interaction with civil society from Latvia with the Committee. 

What measures were being taken to maintain the cultural identity of Latvia’s indigenous population (Livs)?  Did history textbooks cover the period of the Nazi and Soviet occupation of Latvia?   

What was the situation with respect to the observance of national and religious holidays of minorities?  Were toponyms in minority languages in use? 

What guarantees existed to ensure that there was no discrimination in the criminal justice system

Replies by the Delegation

ANDREJS PILDEGOVICS, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, underlined the importance of knowing history in order to understand Latvia’s policies.  The triple occupation of Latvia in the twentieth century had led to the Government’s notion of national citizenship.  The Government did not want to impose Latvian citizenship on anyone who did not want to become a fully-fledged citizen.  The percentage of non-citizens had dropped to 11 per cent from about 30 per cent in the early 1990s.  The authorities had been constantly working to entice non-citizens to pass the naturalization exam, and they had lowered relevant fees and introduced fee waivers.  However, some elderly non-citizens preferred not to obtain Latvian citizenship in order to be able to freely travel to the Russian Federation. 

The category of non-citizens had emerged after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and a number of them had had an opportunity to become citizens of the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Belarus, or any other country, Mr. Pildegovics explained. 

The percentage of ethnic Latvians during the Soviet period was about 51 per cent, and there were no minority language schools at that time.  The promotion of the languages and cultures of minorities was a task entirely undertaken by the independent Latvian State.  Nowadays, about 80 per cent of minorities were fluent in the Latvian language. 

As for the commemorations of events from the Second World War, the head of the delegation clarified that the occupying forces had drafted Latvians into the armed forces.  Latvia had lost more than one third of its population during the war.  As a democratic country, Latvia respected the freedom of expression and assembly.  Those commemorations were not official events and were not attended by State officials.  They were private events and the State ensured that they did not endanger public order.  Those events had nothing to do with the propagation of hatred and Nazi ideology, Mr. Pildegovics stressed.  He noted that history textbooks paid a lot of attention to the crimes against humanity committed during the Second World War. 

The legal framework for non-discrimination in Latvia consisted of a general prohibition of discrimination in the Constitution, and of the obligation of Latvia to implement international treaties.  Although the Constitution dated back to 1922, it was adaptable to legal evolution and it obliged courts and the judiciary to comply with the general non-discrimination clause and to interpret laws in line with signed international treaties, the delegation explained.  Domestic courts could base their rulings almost exclusively on the Constitution.  Courts expanded the interpretation of racial discrimination in line with changes in international law. 

JANIS KARKLINS, Permanent Representatives of Latvia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, explained that non-citizen children had first appeared in the UNHCR statistics of stateless persons in Latvia in 2003.  Latvia had then managed to introduce a footnote to explain the difference between stateless persons, as per the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and Latvian non-citizens.  Children of non-citizen parents could simply tick a box in a form following the birth to register their children as Latvian citizens.  About 99.9 per cent of new-born children became citizens of Latvia.        

The delegation explained that in 2013 the Criminal Law had been amended, taking into account various United Nations treaties, European Union legislation, and the case law of the European Union.  The criminal sentences had been modified to allow for wider use of alternative sentences.  Nevertheless, serious crimes were still punished severely.  Criminal liability was the most serious form of liability and the consequences were severe.  Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law introduced the concept of victim assistance, and the authorities had created a homepage and a hotline for victim support.   

As for the prison population, in 2017, there were 3,996 imprisoned persons, out of whom 942 were non-citizens, and 101 foreigners.  Non-discrimination safeguards in criminal proceedings were based on the principle of equality, as stipulated in the Code on the Execution of Sentences.  Individuals could challenge court decisions at the national level or at the European Court for Human Rights.  The burden of proof was on the plaintiff, in line with the principle of presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt.  

Members of the judiciary and the police had attended training on human rights, identification and investigation of hate crimes, police work in a multinational society, prevention of radicalization, and on the traditional culture of Muslims and the Sharia law.  The Government paid great attention to the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.  In 2016, it had considered a proposal to fight hate speech in the public domain, including on the Internet, and setting up a relevant ministerial task force.  The police had developed methodological guidelines for the identification and investigation of hate crimes in 2017. 

The Government had also amended the Law on Associations and Foundations in 2017 which stipulated that organizations should not turn against the territorial integrity and independence of the Latvian State.  A number of public awareness campaigns had been recently conducted for the general public about hate crimes and the responsible use of the Internet. 

Speaking of refugees and asylum seekers, the delegation emphasised that they were protected under the Asylum Law and by the Office of the Ombudsman.  As for amendments to the Civil Procedure Law of 2016 which abrogated the compulsory use of interpreters and translators in civil courts, the delegation explained that those amendments targeted corporations which could afford to pay for translation.  Persons with limited financial resources did not have to pay for interpretation in civil procedures.   

Racial discrimination prevention measures were included in the policy on the promotion of diversity, focusing mostly on the Roma, and were also applied through European Union wide anti-discrimination programmes.  In cooperation with the Latvian Centre of Human Rights, there were advocacy activities for Roma victims of violence. 

There were two kinds of education programmes in Latvia: those in the Latvian language, and those in minority languages.  The first minority schools had been established in 1989 for Polish and Jewish students in Riga.  Minority schools taught 60 per cent of classes in the Latvian language, and 40 per cent in minority languages.  Almost 50,000 students received education in minority languages, and 65 institutions used the Russian language.  About 17 per cent of all teachers worked in minority schools, whereas 60 per cent of all students received education in minority schools. 

Amendments to the Law on Education of 2018 aimed to improve the knowledge of the Latvian language by all students.  There were no segregated schools for Roma students; they were part of mainstream education.  The quality of education was constantly monitored by the Ministry of Education and Science, and the results had shown that the quality of education in minority schools was no different from other schools. 

The State Language Law aimed to preserve and develop the Latvian language, and to provide a tool for the integration of national and linguistic minorities, while ensuring their right to use their mother tongue.  The language of communication with and by public institutions was Latvian, with several exceptions, such as public awareness, safety/emergency measures, and information on tourism and for asylum seekers.  Public institutions as a rule accepted documents in Latvian, but that rule was not applied in case of medical and rescue emergencies. 

As for the use of language in the workplace, the law stipulated that private companies and self-employed persons had to use Latvian if they dealt with Latvian customers.  The knowledge of Latvian in the private sector depended on the function of the work.  That requirement did not apply to inter-community communication, or in religious ceremonies.  Personal names in identity documents issued by the State were transliterated in line with the rules of the Latvian language, which was phonetic.

The State Labour Inspectorate was tasked with the effective supervision and monitoring of labour relations, and health and safety at work.  It could impose administrative fines in case of breaches.  In 2017, there were 3,464 complaints about possible violations of the Labour Law, out which in 1,915 cases violations had been confirmed.  No cases of racial discrimination had been found in recent years. 

On women’s representation, the delegation informed that in 2017, women made up 17 per cent of members of Parliament, 21.4 per cent in the Government, 23.6 per cent in regional assemblies, 28.8 per cent on boards of companies, and 52 per cent in the field of science.               

ANDREJS PILDEGOVICS, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, said that since 2004 Latvia had been celebrating International Africa Day on 25 May, usually in the presence of representatives of African countries. 

JANIS KARKLINS, Permanent Representatives of Latvia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, informed the Committee that the Latvian Ombudsman, Juris Jansons, had responded to the Experts’ questions in writing. 

In the letter, which was then read out by the secretariat, Mr. Jansons confirmed that children’s rights, and social and economic rights were a priority for his office as children and people in poverty were the most vulnerable groups in Latvia.  Another focus of the Office was persons with disabilities.  Mr. Jansons expressed disappointment that there was no unified reporting system to the United Nations committees by national human rights institutions to convey their alternative reports and to participate in pre-sessions and sessions of consideration of State reports.  Mr. Jansons further explained that the budget for the Office of the Ombudsman had decreased during the financial crisis in 2009 and 2010, but had then been gradually increasing since 2011, although it had still not reached the pre-crisis level.  Currently, three divisions of the Office of the Ombudsman worked on issues of non-discrimination and equal treatment.  In 2016, the Office had conducted research on those issues, but since 2007 it had not brought cases before civil and administrative courts.  The Ombudsman had the right, not obligation to bring cases before court; it had other methods to ensure the rights of people, such as through mediation.  In 2016, the Ombudsman’s Office had promoted the understanding of tolerance and non-discrimination, particularly in the context of hate crimes and hate speech, whereas since 2011 it had had close cooperation with the Roma community.   

Second Round of Questions by Experts

An Expert drew attention to a recent incident involving the Latvian Social Democratic Party, which had posted a racist post on Facebook.  The post portrayed the future of Latvia if the people did not vote for that party, featured a black man in a tribal garb with a European Union passport tucked into his loincloth, with his hand resting on the shoulder of a naked blond woman nursing a black baby.  The Latvian and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender flags could be seen in the background.  What was the position of the Government on that incident? 

Another Expert observed that the political representation of women in Latvia should be improved.  She also asked for clarification of the necessity to be “politically active” in order to obtain Latvian citizenship. 

YANDUAN LI, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Latvia, returning to the issue of non-citizens, asked whether they had the right to be consulted on the policies that directly concerned them.  What was the representation of minorities in public institutions?

As for asylum seekers, Ms. Li inquired whether detention was applied as a measure of last resort for the shortest period of time.  Were there any unaccompanied child migrants in the country?

One Expert disagreed that the status of non-citizens was almost the same as those of Latvian citizens, citing barriers to certain professions and pension benefits.  He reminded that 43 per cent of non-citizens were born in Latvia, and that the rate of their naturalization was very slow.  The Expert also disagreed that the entire Soviet period was so negative for Latvia. 

What was the percentage of non-citizens in the population?  Latvia’s bilateral agreements on the visa regime discriminated against non-citizens in many instances.  Did the Ombudsman process cases of non-citizens? 

What was the language of communication with the authorities in places where minorities were dominant?  What was the participation of civil society in the writing of the State party’s report?   

Replies by the Delegation

ANDREJS PILDEGOVICS, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, said that the Government condemned and rejected the controversial post on Facebook by the Latvian Social Democratic Party, and the political party in question had distanced itself from that post, claiming that the responsible individual would be expelled from the party.  The Government rejected hate speech and hate crimes as a matter of principle.  Since there were only 58 days left until the general elections, the Government had been conducting awareness raising campaigns for media workers and the public about the need to counter bigotry.

As for regional efforts to fight hate speech and discrimination, Mr. Pildegovics reminded that the digital age of nowadays posed a new challenge in that respect.  Latvia was very active within the European Union in activities to address and fight hate speech and discrimination in political discourse, including in other neighbouring European countries. 

Reacting to Experts’ comments about the problematic status of non-citizens, Mr. Pildegovics reminded of the “triple rape” of Latvia by Nazi Germany and Soviet Union in the 1918-1945 period.  Latvia had been destroyed by the Nazi-Soviet pact; the President of Latvia at the time had been killed somewhere in the Soviet Union.  More than 20,000 Latvian civilians, including children, had been deported in trains overnight without any due process.  Soviet-era apparatchiks and members of the Soviet Red Army had settled in Latvia after the end of the Second World War.  In 1918, ethnic Latvians made up about 80 per cent of the population, whereas in 1991 they had almost become a minority. 

As for the problem of non-citizens, it was partly due to the fact that the Russian Federation had allowed the privilege for non-citizens from Latvia to travel to the Russian Federation without a visa.  Mr. Pildegovics stressed that non-citizens enjoyed rights that were very similar to those of Latvian citizens.  The right to vote was an incentive for non-citizens to become full citizens of Latvia.  They could form associations, but could not vote or be elected for office. 

JANIS KARKLINS, Permanent Representatives of Latvia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, clarified that in no way was political activism a requirement for acquiring Latvian citizenship.  He noted that Latvian citizenship conferred full political rights to all those who acquired it.  Non-citizens had exactly the same political rights as Latvian citizens, except two: the right to vote and stand for office.  Mr. Karklins reiterated that Latvian non-citizens were not considered stateless persons as per the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.  The number of stateless persons in Latvia stood at 178. 

The delegation noted that Latvian asylum institutions made sure that the rights of asylum seekers were respected.  However, some restrictive measures might be applied, such as regular registration by border guards and detention, in order to establish their identity and the reasons for demanding asylum.  If an asylum seeker presented a threat to Latvian security, he or she would be detained.  The competent authorities used detention as a measure of last resort.  In 2016, there were 350 asylum seekers in Latvia, out of whom 90 were detained.  Five of the detained asylum seekers were children up to 17 years of age.  In 2017, there were 395 asylum seekers, out of whom 61 were detained.  Eleven detained asylum seekers were aged up to 17.  The detained minors were provided with education and recreational age-appropriate programmes in detention conditions suited to their age. 

Concluding Remarks

YANDUAN LI, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Latvia, thanked the delegation for the large amount of information provided, and commended the progress made in Latvia in the implementation of the Convention.  Ms. Li further thanked the delegation for the constructive and candid dialogue.   

ANDREJS PILDEGOVICS, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, thanked the Committee for a stimulating exchange, and their expertise and interest in Latvia.  He assured that the recommendations would be studied by Government experts, and the Office of the Ombudsman. 
NOUREDDINE AMIR, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for their constructive participation in the dialogue.  The Committee would continue to develop constructive relations with Latvia.


For use of the information media; not an official record 

CERD18.14E