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On 28 February 2023, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, in his statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council, noted that for more than a year now, we had been witnessing human rights violations perpetrated by Russia.

“Last year, the international community responded firmly by suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council. The aggressor has no place in the United Nations body, which stands for the protection of core democratic values and human rights,” the Foreign Minister pointed out. Edgars Rinkēvičs commended the work of the UN Human Rights Council on establishing an Independent International Commission of Inquiry to document and investigate Russia’s abuses of human rights in Ukraine, which is vital for calling the perpetrators to account.

The Foreign Minister expressed strong support for the decision of the UN Human Rights Council to establish a Special Rapporteur mandate to effectively monitor human rights abuses and crackdown on civil society in Russia. The Foreign Minister also called for continued monitoring of the human rights situation in Belarus. “We condemn the repressions against peaceful protesters, independent media and civil society organisations. Latvia will continue supporting the work of civil society and independent media,” Edgars Rinkēvičs pointed out. 

The Foreign Minister underlined in his statement that during various wars and conflicts women and girls were often subject to gender-based violence. He also highlighted Latvia’s response to the needs of girls and women affected by Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine: “We are providing psychological support to victims of gender-related violence and establishing a rehabilitation center for victims of war crimes in Ukraine. Gender equality should be among our priorities for a safe, secure and just society.”

In the context of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Foreign Minister underlined that human rights are the foundation of freedoms, justice and peace. The international society must be united in protecting the human rights principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.