In the lead up to the upcoming session of the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland on 26 January, when Latvia is scheduled to have its National Report examined, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is providing information on Latvia’s achievements in the field of human rights.
One of the main areas where Latvia has demonstrated significant progress is the improvement of conditions of detention for inmates. Following up on the results of a comprehensive audit in places of detention conducted in 2013 and 2014, Latvia has ensured the accommodation of inmates in compliance with international standards, namely, that the cell space be not less than 4 square metres per prisoner. This space allocation per prisoner has been assured in specific legislation.
Noteworthy progress has also been achieved with respect to reducing the overall prison population: the number of persons incarcerated has been reduced by approximately 30 per cent in the past four years. This has been accomplished by offering more alternatives in lieu of deprivation of liberty as well as by raising the proportion of fines and of community service.
For this to happen, from 2011-2015, conceptual changes in the system of criminal punishment were instituted as well as amendments made to the Criminal Law and other legislation. Besides, the use of electronic monitoring devices was introduced in 2015.
Latvia’s delegation in Geneva will be headed by the Foreign Ministry’s State Secretary Andrejs Pildegovičs. The delegation includes representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Interior, Education and Science, Culture, Welfare, and Justice as well as the Latvian State Police.
The report was produced by a working group established specifically for this purpose and approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on 15 September 2015. The report outlines progress in the protection of human rights since 2011.
Within the framework of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, human rights records are reviewed in all UN Member States every four years. In accordance with a schedule established by the UNHRC, Member States present their national reports, and these are followed by a question-and-answer session. During the discussion, the UN member state under review listens to recommendations from other member states and replies to questions from non-governmental organisations.