LATVIA – UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Speaking at the Committee session, representatives from Latvia explained that instruction in the official language helps better prepare schoolchildren for further studies and successful careers. According to them, the reform and later amendments do not prevent ethnic minorities from «using their language and preserving their traditions and culture».
The members of the Committee had a different view: they expressed concern that «Latvia’s language policy violates the economic, social and cultural rights of ethnic minorities» and recommended revising the provisions restricting teaching in minority languages in schools and pre-schools.
The issue of stateless persons was also raised during the discussion, in particular by the NGO Latvian Committee for Human Rights. According to its information, more than 200 thousand inhabitants of the country, which is 10% of the population, have the status called «non-citizens of Latvia»1. These are former citizens of the USSR and their descendants who have Latvian passports but are not entitled, for example, to hold public office.
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights consists of 18 independent experts tasked with monitoring the implementation by States parties of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
1Non-citizens are former citizens of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic who were deprived of Latvian citizenship after the collapse of the USSR on the grounds that they were not born on Latvian territory before 1940. Non-citizens are de jure citizens of the USSR.