Latvia has over 100 places of detention: 9 mental hospitals, 31 social care home, 15 prisons, 28 State police short-term detention cells, detention rooms at border posts, an illegal migrant detention facility at Olaine, and other facilities holding persons deprived of liberty by state authority. During the project „Monitoring Human Rights and Prevention of Torture in Closed Institutions: Prisons, Police Cells and Mental Health Care Institutions in Baltic Countries” 102 monitoring visits were conducted, including 15 visits to mental hospitals, 23 visits to social care homes for mentally disabled, 21 visit to state and municipal police custody facilities, 22 visits to prisons, 21 visit to illegal migrant detention facilities (and reception centre for asylum seekers and refugees).
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.