On 23 February 2021, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the High Level Segment of the 46th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) via video-conferencing. In his statement to the Council, the Foreign Minister drew particular attention to the increasing reprisals against civil society and the deteriorating human rights situation in Russia and Belarus.
“Latvia is concerned about massive repressions against civil society, human rights defenders, journalists and the political opposition in the Russian Federation,” Edgars Rinkēvičs said, calling for an immediate release of Alexei Navalny and other peaceful protesters from detention.
Edgars Rinkēvičs also pointed to the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus including unlawful detentions, violence, enforced disappearances, physical and mental torture, as well as sexual violence. Latvia call on the Human Rights Council for creating an international accountability mechanism to address human rights violations in Belarus.
The Foreign Minister also repeatedly drew attention to the worsening of the human rights situation in illegally annexed Crimea and the occupied regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Welcoming the United States decision to re-engage with the Human Rights Council, the Latvian Foreign Minister confirmed Latvia’s readiness to work together on strengthening of the HRC and the UN human rights architecture. It is vital that unrestricted access of UN bodies be ensured to all territories and conflict zones, and sustainable and predictable funding provided for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
On 23 February, Edgars Rinkēvičs made an online statement for the Side Event with a panel discussion on the Human Rights Situation in Crimea organised by Ukraine as part of the session of the UN Human Rights Council. The Foreign Minister noted that seven years since the aggression by the Russian Federation the human rights situation in the illegally annexed territories continues to worsen. “We are particularly concerned about violations of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities and other ethnic and religious groups,” said the Minister. Edgars Rinkēvičs reiterated Latvia’s steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
On 24 February, Edgars Rinkēvičs will take part in the Ministerial meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism, “New Frontiers for Human Rights – the Internet and Climate Change, and how to advance pandemic preparedness and response”. In his statement, the Foreign Minister underlined that it was critical for the countries to step up the countering of disinformation triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Working in international organisations, Latvia continues promoting media and information literacy as key long-term measures to address disinformation.
Since 2019, Latvia has been a member of the Alliance for Multilateralism led by Germany and France.