In Latvia, similarly to many other new EU member states, institutional care at psychiatric hospitals and social care homes at present is the most widespread form of care for users of mental health services. In January 2005 Latvia, together with other countries of the European Region of World Health Organisation (WHO) signed the Mental Health Declaration and Mental Health Plan of Action for Europe 2005 – 2010, which demands that the relevant authorities in each member state introduce a mental health policy and legislation harmonized with international standards and develop public care for persons with serious mental disorders to replace care in large institutions. However, to date deinstitutionalisation and development of community based services is progressing slowly.
The policy paper provides an overview of closed institutions in Latvia and key trends in their reform since the country regained independence in 1991, highlights the role of international organisations (relevant UN, Council of Europe bodies, European Commission) in assessing Latvia’s compliance with international human rights standards in closed facilities and their conclusions and recommendations concerning the work of domestic inspection bodies.
Summary about human rights in Latvia in 2005 prepared for annual report of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.
The policy paper “Human Rights in Mental Health Care in Baltic Countries” has been prepared by the Latvian Centre for Human Rights (LCHR) and its partner organizations: Vilnius Regional Office of Global Initiative for Psychiatry, Mental Disability Advocacy Centre and Estonian Patient Advocacy Association.
Latvian legislation, policy and practice still offer too few chances to people with intellectual disabilities (whose learning ability is significantly lower than average) to access education and employment. Although the numbers of children with intellectual disabilities attending mainstream schools are rising, the vast majority still attend special schools. Due to the complete lack of suitable, targeted employment programmes or initiatives, practically all people with intellectual disabilities have no work. They therefore have no chance of leading an independent life and are forced to rely on State benefits.