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Human Rights Council – Universal Periodic Review

For use of information media; not an official record

Date: Thursday, 05 May 2011 (Morning)

Country under review: LATVIA

Documents: The national report A/HRC/WG.6/11/LVA/1;
The compilation report as prepared by the OHCHR A/HRC/WG.6/11/LVA/2;
The summary of stakeholders’ information A/HRC/WG.6/11/LVA/3;

Troika: HUNGARY, GUATEMALA, KYRGYZSTAN

Concerned country - national report

- Represented by a 6 member delegation and headed by His Excellency Mr. Andris Teikmanis, State Secretary, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Highlights

- In 2001, Latvia was one of the first States to issue a standing invitation to UN human rights Special Procedures.
- The National Human Rights Office was established in 1995 in accordance with the Paris Principles.
- Latvia firmly believes in cooperating with non-governmental organizations.
-Topics such as the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and xenophobia are included in the school curricula.
- Latvia’s strategy for preventing human trafficking is based on prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership.

Interactive discussion

Number of States taking part in the discussion

  • Member States: 18 Inscribed on the list: 43
  • Observer States: 25

Positive achievements

- The establishment of an Ombudsman’s Office.
- Promoting the rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS.
- Amendments to the Criminal Law aggravating penalties relating to domestic violence.
- The existence of an adequate institutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights.
- The increase in naturalizations and the decrease in the number of non-citizens.
- Combating discrimination and promoting tolerance.
- State financed education in Latvia is available in eight national minority languages.
- Ratification of the Palermo Protocol in 2004.

Issues and questions raised

-Racially motivated statements in the media and those made by officials targeting immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees, certain ethnic groups including the Roma, and religious minorities.
- The penal code stills contains a provision for the death penalty in times of war. Does Latvia intend to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty?
- The Committee against Torture and the report of the “Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture” of 2007 both criticized the situation of prisons in Latvia. What measures has the Government taken to address concerns related to conditions in prisons?
- The deterioration of the rights of children as a result of the financial crisis.
- The still large number of non-citizens combined with the low naturalization rate.
- Despite the Government’s Programme for Eliminating Domestic Violence and the recent amendments to the Criminal Code involving violence in the family, gaps still exist.
- Gender gaps in employment, particularly with regards to rural women.

Recommendations

- To ratify the Optional Protocol to the Committee Against Torture, the Optional Protocol to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Optional Protocol.
- Further facilitate the acquisition of citizenship and increase efforts to promote the registration of newborns.
- Strengthen measures to prevent and combat discrimination and hate crimes against ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
- Adopt measures and implement policies and legislation to combat gender discrimination, and to promote the empowerment of women.
- Pursue efforts to combat trafficking in human beings, especially women and children.
- Consider the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their families.
-Consider raising the Ombudsman as a national institution for human rights accredited with the International Criminal Court.
- Remove the death penalty from Latvia’s justice system.
- Intensify measures to tackle racism and hate crimes.
- Improve the living conditions of asylum seekers and refugees.
- Improve overall conditions in detention and prison facilities and address overcrowding.


Response of the concerned country

- Latvia has achieved remarkable results as regards women education, and representation in senior Government and business positions.
- Further work is needed to achieve full de facto equality.
- The Ministry of Welfare continues to implement the Programme for Eliminating Domestic Violence. The Government has identified three priority areas: identification of domestic violence, domestic violence prevention and institutional cooperation in the provision of assistance and rehabilitation services.
- The Latvian authorities continue to take measures to further facilitate the acquisition of citizenship.
- The Latvian Constitution and legislation prohibits discrimination on various grounds, including sexual orientation.
- The Government is making significant efforts to improve the conditions of places of detention to ensure their compliance with international standards.
- In 2009, the Law on the Procedure for Entry into Force and Application of the Criminal Law was amended by including the definition of torture.
- An effective children’s rights protection system is in place. The main institution responsible for monitoring compliance with children’s rights is the State Inspectorate for Protection of Children’s Rights.
- In 2010, Latvia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Additional Protocol.
- The Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau is the leading specialized anti-corruption authority in Latvia since 2002.
- The knowledge and preservation of the Latvian language is particularly important given Latvia’s historical context. Non-citizens who are former USSR citizens who have no other nationality can become Latvian citizens by passing the citizenship test.
- The Ministry of Justice has proposed new norms for registering children of non-citizens born after 1991.
- Latvia clearly opposes and condemns Nazi and neo-Nazi ideology.
- The Minister of Justice has taken steps to abolish the death penalty even during times of war.
- Latvia’s Parliament has adopted laws to reintegrate inmates into society. A new prison has been built for juvenile offenders. Latvia is investigating the use of public-private partnerships to address the issue of prison overcrowding.
- The Ministry of Welfare, together with non-governmental organizations is working to create a political document for the next two years regarding gender equality and domestic violence.
-Corporal punishment is prohibited under the penal code relating to domestic violence.

Adoption of the report by the UPR working group scheduled on

Monday 9 May, 12:00 p.m.

More information

ADOPTION OF THE REPORT ON PALAU

The Universal Periodic Review Working Group today also adopted, ad referendum, the report on Palau (A/HRC/WG.6/11/L.3), following the review of that country on Tuesday, 3 May.

Of the 106 recommendations put forward to Palau by various delegations, five enjoy the support of Palau; fifty-nine were considered as already implemented or in the process of implementation; and forty-two will be further examined by Palau which will provide responses in due time, but no later than the eighteenth session of the Human Rights Council in September 2011.

The UPR report on Belgium will be made available here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/PAGES/PWSession11.aspx

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