Within the first nine months of 2005, there have been no court cases related to racism, xenophobia and discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, race, religion or language in the area of employment. However, this year court delivered first rulings in two cases of discrimination on the grounds of 1) sexual orientation and 2) multiple grounds – sex and property status based on the anti-discriminatory clauses of the Labour Law. In both cases court ruled that anti-discrimination clauses were violated. The number of complaints of discrimination in employment received by special bodies remains very low: only the Latvian National Human Rights Office has received two complaints on alleged discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity.
In the area of education the main developments remained implementation of the minority education reform 2004, which foresees transition to the Latvian language as a main language of instruction at public secondary schools. The Constitutional Court reviewed the claim of twenty left-wing MPs on the alleged incompliance of the reform with the Constitution of Latvia and international human rights obligations. Although the Constitutional Court decided that the legal norms in question were in compliance with the Constitution, provided that it was implemented with flexibility, it also noted that effective monitoring mechanisms of the quality of education had not been but should be in place. In another case filed by opposition MPs concerning a legal norm, which limited public funding only for those private schools that have Latvian as the main language of instruction, the Court established a violation of the anti-discrimination clause of the Constitution.
There has been some positive development in the situation of the most vulnerable group – Roma. The Secretariat of Special Assignments Minister for Social Integration allocated almost EUR 28,000 for the development of the National Programme for the Integration of Roma. Education was cited as a top priority of the programme.
In 2005, no new legislative provisions addressing racism and xenophobia were adopted. Issues of racism and xenophobia remained poorly addressed at national level. However, the high number (in Latvia’s context) of racially motivated assaults and appearance of more extreme and radical statements in the public sphere have prompted human rights and criminal law experts to discuss the possibly overly narrow interpretation of the respective legal norms provided by the Criminal Law currently in force.
There was no specific development in the area of housing, and no information about good practices in the area of fighting discrimination in housing available.
There is no statistical data available on anti-Semitism. There was one complaint from a rabbi about verbal abuse in his address, one case of vandalism in the Jewish cemetery and a case initiated by the Security Police about publishing allegedly anti-Semitic statements in the national radical newspaper.
There is no statistics available on Islamophobia in 2005. No incidents have been recorded either.