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06.11.2003   Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee : Latvia.

16. While noting the measures taken by the State party to make the naturalization process more accessible and increase the rate of naturalization of non-citizens, the Committee is concerned about the limited results of these policies, with many candidates not even initiating the procedure. The Committee takes note of the different reasons underlying this phenomenon, but considers that it has adverse consequences in terms of enjoyment of Covenant rights, and that the State party has a positive duty to ensure and protect those rights. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned at the possible obstacles posed by the requirement to pass a language examination,

The State party should further strengthen its efforts to effectively address the lack of applications for naturalization as well as possible obstacles posed by the requirement to pass a language examination, in order to ensure full compliance with articles 2 of the Covenant.

17. The Committee is concerned at the low level of registration as citizens of children born in Latvia after 21 August 1991, to non-citizen parents (Article 24).
The State party should take all necessary measures to further encourage registration of children as citizens.

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.

20. While noting the explanation provided by the State party for the adoption of the Education Law of 1998, particularly the gradual transition to Latvian as the language of instruction, the Committee remains concerned about the impact of the current time limit on the move to Latvian as the language of instruction, in particular in secondary schools, on Russian speakers and other minorities. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned about the distinction made in providing state support to private schools based on the language of instruction (Articles 26, 27).

The State party should take all necessary measures to prevent negative effects on minorities of the transition to Latvian as the language of instruction. It should also ensure that if state subsidies are provided to private schools, they are provided in a non-discriminatory manner.

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