On 8-9 August 2018, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Committee) examined, at its 96th session, the Periodic Report on the implementation of the United Nations 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in the Republic of Latvia over the time period between 2008 and 2016 (Report).
The Committee experts praised the significant progress made by Latvia since the examination of the previous report, as well as the high level of the Latvian delegation.
Members of the Committee asked the delegation questions on Latvia’s legal framework for the elimination of discrimination, the achievements in reducing the number of non-citizens, initiatives on the promotion of naturalisation, the influence of the official language policy on the operations of private companies, investigations into hate crime, and sanctions applied.
The Committee experts were also interested in the work of the Ombudsman’s Office on the elimination of discrimination, as well as cooperation of public institutions with civil society and non-governmental organisations in the process of the development and implementation of policy initiatives.
The experts also put questions as to the impact of the education reform on the right of national minorities to preserve and develop their language and culture, as well as about ensuring the rights of asylum seekers.
The Latvian delegation informed the Committee about the comprehensive prohibition of discrimination enshrined in Article 91 of the Satversme (the Constitution of Latvia), case law on the direct application of the Satversme and international law in hearing cases on alleged discrimination.
Detailed information and statistics were offered on changes to the number of non-citizens and the process of naturalisation. Members of the delegation also informed the Committee on the plan for the implementation of the education reform, student performance in national minority education programmes, the use of the official language in communication with public authorities and in the service sector.
The delegation then provided an overview of public outreach campaigns on hate speech and hate crime, initiatives for target groups under the society integration policy, as well as various training courses and programmes for the staff of law enforcement institutions, judges and prosecutors.
Final conclusions by the Committee on the submitted report will be published end of August.
Latvia has been a State Party to the UN 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination since 1992. The Convention sets out the obligations of States Parties in the field of elimination of racial discrimination. To enable monitoring the implementation by the state of its international commitments, it is under an obligation to present reports on what has been achieved in adherence to the provisions of the Convention.
The Periodic Report on the implementation of the Convention in Latvia approved at the Cabinet of Ministers on 10 October 2017, and submitted to the UN on 12 October 2017.