On February 21, LHRC representatives Aleksandr Kuzmin and Inna Djeri took part in an NGO meeting with members of the Venice Commission evaluating minority education. Co-ordinated by the committee’s co-chairman Vladimir Buzayev, more than 100 applications have been submitted to the ECtHR on the restrictions to use mother tongue in public schools. The Constitutional Court case ¹ 2019-20-03, on the restrictions to use mother tongue in kindergartens, is moving forward.
The conclusions on Latvia have been published by the European Committee of Social Rights – they are using LHRC submission. LHRC has also submitted reports to the OHCHR and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. The committee’s board member Aleksandr Kuzmin took part in the annual assembly of the Europan Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AEDH).
On February 24, LHRC has organised an international roundtable in Riga. It was coupled with a presentation of the book “Language Conflicts in Contemporary Estonia, Latvia and Ukraine” by Dr. Ksenia Maksimovtsova (Higher School of Economics, Russia).
The activities of the committee have been reflected and its members have authored articles at Baltnews.com, Russkiymir.ru, IMHOclub.lv and other web portals, in the magazine “Rigas Laiks”. The booklet "Minority schools under attack in Latvia", prepared by LHRC, has earned an attack as “tendentious” in the annual report of the State Security Service.
Human rights-impacting bills currently on the legislative agenda include:
amendments (Nos. 321/Lp13 and 322/Lp13) to two laws, banning the use of St. George’s ribbons in public events. Sent to the commissions (pre-readings).
amendments (No123/Lp13) to the law on public events, banning the use of Soviet uniform. Adopted in the 2nd reading of three.
the draft Law on Local Referenda (No. 162/Lp13), denying to "non-citizens" participation in those referenda. Adopted in the 1st reading of three.
the draft Residential Tenancy Law (No. 144/Lp13). It intends to narrow the rights of the tenants, inter alia, terminating those tenancy agreements which currently have no term of expiration. Adopted in the 1st reading of three.
the draft law on administrative liability in a selection of spheres including the use of the official language (No. 342/Lp13). Adopted in the 2nd reading of three.
amendments (Nos. 407/Lp13 and 408/Lp13) to two laws envisaging creating privileges for kindergarten instruction in the Latvian language. Adopted in the 2ndt reading of three.
UPD see also amendments to the Electronic Mass Media Law (559/Lp13). Of concern initially due to vague security restrctions, in the 2nd reading they also got anti-minority overtones due to additional language use requirements squeezing out Russian and many other minority languages.
The parliament is also considering a collective petition for demolition of the monument to the Liberators of Riga, having refused a counter-petition having gathered more signatures in less time and calling for protection of monuments to Anti-Nazi fighters.