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Congress turns to European commissioner over non-citizens' rights in Latvia

BC, Riga, 05.02.2014.Print version
The Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress has turned to European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding regarding the current state of non-citizens in Latvia, the organization informed LETA.

The Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress urges Reding to draw attention to a dire situation – 300,000 non-citizens in Latvia not having the right to vote in any elections, despite the fact that they have not left or were born in Latvia, points out the organization.


"Latvian non-citizens are entirely disenfranchised from all political rights by being a special category of Latvian nationals living, working and paying taxes in Latvia for generations but without any citizenship. Due to the fact that non-citizens are ethnic minorities, the situation was a prominent cause of concern for the European Commission during the enlargement negotiations in 1995-2004. However, after joining the European Union, the Latvian government significantly diminished its efforts for complying with the Copenhagen criteria with regards to political rights of ethnic minorities," explains the organization.


Referring to the statement by Reding on January 29, 2014 about the disenfranchisement in voting rights of EU citizens living abroad, the Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress welcomes the commissioner's concerns on political rights of Europeans. Reding draws attention to the 'legal limbo' that some citizens find themselves in after leaving their home country for another EU member state. After leaving, they lose the right to vote in their home country but do not acquire the same right in the new country. The right to vote is a basic fundamental right and the most powerful tool of expression of a citizen – and should therefore be granted to everyone.


"This year is the 10th anniversary of the EU Eastern enlargement, and Latvia is not the only country that still has not achieved human rights standards agreed by accession ten years ago. Unfortunately we have to agree with CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, that human rights in the European Union remain more often an issue "for export" than for domestic consumption." – says Elizabete Krivcova, head of Latvian Non-citizens' Congress.

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