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The fact that a significant percentage of the adult population of Latvia does not enjoy voting rights represents a continuing democratic deficit. - OSCE/ODIHR
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CITIZENSHIP

International recommendations to Latvia on granting voting rights to non-citizens of Latvia     

 

 

 

 

UN

 

Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Latvia. CERD/C/63/CO/7, 10 December 2003

12. The Committee recognizes that political rights can be legitimately limited to citizens.

Nevertheless, noting that most non-citizens have been residing in Latvia for many years, if not for their whole lives, the Committee strongly recommends that the State party  consider facilitating the integration process by making it possible for all non-citizens who are long-time permanent residents to participate in local elections.

http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CERD.C.63.CO.7.En?Opendocument

 

Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee CCPR/CO/79/LVA, 05/11/2003

18.  With regard to the status of non-citizens, the Committee notes the policy of the Government to further social integration through naturalization. However, the Committee is concerned about the large proportion of non-citizens in the State party, who by law are treated neither as foreigners nor as stateless persons but as distinct category of persons with long-lasting and effective ties to Latvia, in many respects comparable to citizens but in other respects without the rights that come with full citizenship. The Committee expresses its concern over the perpetuation of a situation of exclusion, resulting in lack of effective enjoyment of many Covenant rights by the non-citizen segment of the population, including political rights, the possibility to occupy certain state and public positions, the possibility to exercise certain professions in the private sector, restrictions in the area of ownership of agricultural land, as well as social benefits (Article 26).

The State party should prevent the perpetuation of a situation where a considerable part of the population is classified as "non-citizens". In the interim, the State party should facilitate the integration process by enabling non-citizens who are long-term residents of Latvia to participate in local elections and to limit the number of other restrictions on non-citizens [ in order to facilitate participation of non-citizens in public life in Latvia.

http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CCPR.CO.79.LVA.En?Opendocument

 

UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Addendum on the mission to Latvia of the report to Human Rights Council

A/HRC/7/19/Add.3

88. (..) the granting of voting rights in local elections for non-citizens who are long-term residents of Latvia should be considered by the Government and the subject of broad discussion within Latvian society (..)

http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G08/116/23/PDF/G0811623.pdf?OpenElement

 

EU

 

European Parliament’s resolution on the comprehensive monitoring report of the European Commission on the state of preparedness for EU membership of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia (COM(2003) 675 – C5-0532/2003 – 2003/2201(INI))

 

74. Welcomes the increase in the naturalisation rate in 2003 mainly due to the referendum campaign for the EU accession, even if the naturalisation process remains too slow; therefore invites the Latvian authorities to promote that process and considers that minimum language requirements for elderly people may contribute to it; encourages the Latvian authorities to overcome the existing split in society and to favour the genuine integration of "non-citizens", ensuring an equal competitive chance in education and labour; proposes that the Latvian authorities envisage the possibility of allowing non-citizens who are long-time inhabitants to take part in local self-government elections; (..)

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P5-TA-2004-0180+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

 

OSCE

 

Final report on the parliamentary elections in Latvia, 5 October 2002 20/11/2002

 

XI. Recommendations

(..) 2. The Issue of Municipal Voting Rights for Non-Citizens - The OSCE/ODIHR

would encourage a full and public discussion on the issue of voting rights for non-
citizens in municipal elections. The Council of Europe and the Council of the Baltic
Sea States have previously urged Latvia to grant voting rights to “non-citizens” for
municipal elections. Involving non-citizens in local decision-making could represent
a first and tangible step toward eliminating the current democratic deficit, as
represented by the 22% of the population with no voting rights at national or
municipal level.

http://www.osce.org/documents/odihr/2002/11/1441_en.pdf

http://www.osce.org/documents/odihr/2002/11/1441_en.pdf

 

OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Republic of Latvia: Parliamentary Elections. 8 February 2007

2. Consistent with previous recommendations by OSCE/ODIHR and other international organizations, the Saeima should give consideration to granting the “non-citizens” of Latvia the right to vote in municipal elections. In addition, the Government should further intensify its endeavours to encourage non-citizens to initiate and undergo the naturalization procedure.

http://www.osce.org/documents/html/pdftohtml/23213_en.pdf.html

http://www.osce.org/documents/odihr/2007/02/23213_en.pdf

 

 Resolution on national minorities (Edinburgh, 2004)

The OSCE Parliamentary assembly

16.  Strongly recommends that the Latvian authorities create conditions for participation of stateless persons in the political life of the country by granting them the right to vote in local elections

http://new.oscepa.org/images/stories/documents/declarations/2004_-_edinburgh_declaration_-_english.2314.pdf

 

Council of Europe

 

 

Parliamentary Assembly. Recommendation 1625(2003)

8. The Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

(..) iv. call on member states to:

(..) c. grant immigrants who have been legally living in the country for at least three years the right to vote and stand in local elections and encourage activities to foster their active political participation;

http://assembly.coe.int/Mainf.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta03/EREC1625.htm

 

Parliamentary Assembly. Resolution 1527(2006): Rights of national minorities in Latvia. 17 November 2006

17. The Parliamentary Assembly therefore invites the Latvian authorities to: (..)

17.5. consider all possibilities and explore all appropriate ways leading to the implementation of the pertinent recommendations made by the Assembly, the

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, and by relevant OSCE and United Nations bodies, in order to grant voting rights at local elections to all permanent residents;

http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta06/ERES1527.htm

 

Commissioner for Human Rights

 

CommDH(2004)3 Report by Mr. Alvaro Gil-Robles, Commissioner for Human Rights, on his visit to Latvia. 5 – 8 October 2003

132. In the light of the preceding findings, and with the aim of assisting Latvia in the promotion of the respect for human rights, the Commissioner makes the following recommendations in conformity with article 8 of Resolution (99)50:

(..) 5. With a view to encouraging non-citizens to naturalise and promoting their integration, increase their participation in the political life of the country, notably by examining the possibility of granting them, amongst others, the right to vote in local elections; https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=112881&BackColorInternet=FEC65B&BackColorIntranet=FEC65B&BackColorLogged=FFC679

 

Memorandum to the Latvian Government: Assessment of the progress made in implementing the 2003 recommendations of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. CommDH(2007)9, 16 May 2007.

 

43. The exclusion of non-citizens from political life does nothing to encourage their integration. The Commissioner stressed this point in the previous report, recommending

that Latvia examine the possibility of granting them, among other things, the right to vote in local elections. It should be highlighted that the overwhelming majority of non-citizens belong to minorities, and that this status debars them from participating in the political life of their country. They can neither vote nor be elected, even at the local level. Although a bill has been drafted granting non-citizens the right to vote at the local level, the text has not yet been examined by Parliament. The Commissioner hopes that Parliament will soon adopt a law improving the participation of non-citizens in political and social life.

https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1134279&BackColorInternet=FEC65B&BackColorIntranet=FEC65B&BackColorLogged=FFC679

 

           

ECRI

 

ECRI Second Report on Latvia  CRI (2002) 21

 

34. “Non-citizens” do not enjoy eligibility and voting rights in neither national nor local elections. Noting that most non-citizens have resided in the country for most or all of their lives, ECRI recommends to the Latvian government to confer eligibility and voting rights to resident non-citizens in local elections.

http://www.coe.int/t/e/human_rights/ecri/5-Archives/1-ECRI%27s_work/5-CBC_Second_reports/Latvia_CBC2_en.pdf

 

ECRI Third Report on Latvia. CRI (2008) 2

132. Noting that most non-citizens have resided in the country for most or all of their lives, ECRI urges the Latvian authorities to confer eligibility and voting rights to resident non-citizens in local elections.

http://www.coe.int/t/e/human_rights/ecri/1-ecri/2-country-by-country_approach/Latvia/Latvia_CBC_3.asp

 

Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe

 

Recommendation 257 (2008)

11. Recommends that the Latvian authorities: (..)

b. enact new legislation or amend existing laws, granting non-citizens the right to vote in local elections so as to foster their increased involvement in political life and hence their integration into Latvian society;

https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1366765&Site=Congress&BackColorInternet=e0cee1&BackColorIntranet=e0cee1&BackColorLogged=FFC679

 

 

https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=REC257(2008)&Language=lanEnglish&Ver=original&Site=Congress&BackColorInternet=e0cee1&BackColorIntranet=e0cee1&BackColorLogged=FFC679

Recommendation 47 (1998)

9. Considering the large number of Latvian residents who have no political or civic rights, reaching nearly 50% of the population in some cities, such as the capital, and having regard to the Preamble of the European Charter of Local Self-Government:

a) Believes that it is important to integrate these residents into the country’s democratic system and that local democracy offers a significant opportunity to achieve this;

b) Recommends that the Latvian parliamentary and governmental authorities recognise the people’s right to vote on issues within the competence of local authorities by acceding to the European Convention on the participation of foreigners in public life at local level.

https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=REC(1998)047&Language=lanEnglish&Ver=original&Site=Congress&BackColorInternet=e0cee1&BackColorIntranet=e0cee1&BackColorLogged=FFC679