As in previous years, the foremost human rights problem in Latvia remained the long pre–trial detention periods, and the numerous pre–trial detainees. Despite the harmonization of law with European standards by the adoption of new Asylum Law and Law on Immigration, conditions in the Olaine detention facility for illegal migrants raised concerns on both legal and physical grounds.
There were also new and disturbing developments in society in 2002, relating to open expressions of xenophobia and intolerance. Apolitical party used openly racist imaging in its anti–EU stance while campaigning for the parliamentary elections, while information of a case of racially motivated attack reached the LCHRES.
Issues of freedom of expression included the language restrictions in commercial broadcasting as well as the struggle in courts to define the limits for defamation.
Controversial state language requirements to stand for elections were abolished, but only after strong international pressure.
The large number of non–citizens continued to be only very slowly reduced through naturalization. In minority rights, the continued lack of ratification of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities caused concern. However, in a positive development, the new government at the end of the year highlighted the importance of social integration by creating a Special Task Minister for Social Integration Affairs.