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 progress in the field of human rights.
The policy on integration of society is yet another vital priority area where considerable progress was made in 2013 by amendments to the Citizenship Law, bringing the concept of citizenship in line with dynamic changes in the contemporary world: the scope of application of dual citizenship has been expanded, the naturalisation process was made easier, and the children of non-citizens are granted citizenship automatically. Consequently, more than 99% of children born in Latvia in 2015 are Latvian citizens (compared to 2011, when that figure was 96.7%).
Due to successful naturalization measures which facilitate naturalization, as well as campaigns to make sure that the public is well-informed, the number of non-citizens has decreased to 12.2% (262,622) in January 2015 from 29% (approx. 730,000) in 1995 when the process was launched. According to the latest statistics, 84% of the residents of Latvia are Latvian citizens.
An indispensable part of the integration policy of Latvia is continued support by the government for the development of national minority cultures, languages and traditions. The unique model of bilingual education applied in Latvia is being used internationally as an example of best practices in minority education. State funding is currently being provided to 109 educational institutions that implement minority education programmes in seven languages: Russian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Estonian, Lithuanian, and Hebrew. According to recent research, more than 94% of persons belonging to national minorities can communicate in Latvian, which is another sign of significant progress considering that in 1989 only 23% of persons belonging to national minorities knew Latvian.
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. Latvia’s delegation 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 State Police.
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.