Summer School
Human Rights and Their Implementation: European and Baltic Experience

12 - 23 August, 2002
Riga, Latvia

On 12 - 23 August 2002 the Institute on Human Rights of the University of Latvia, Faculty of Law organised the third summer school Human Rights and Their Implementation: European and Baltic Experience. Nineteen lawyers representing the governmental (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ombudsman) and non-governmental institutions (NGOs and legal clinics), as well as academia (lecturers and students) and judiciary from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Georgia Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia participated in the summer school to learn the basics of the human rights law, to get acquainted with Latvia's experience in the field of human rights and to share a number of existing human rights issues in their home countries.

During the period of two weeks participants were introduced to the basic aspects of international and European human rights law, including the general introduction to the United Nations human rights system, and with particular emphasis on the European human rights system, including jurisprudence and the latest developments in the European Court of Human Rights, the work of the Committee of Experts under the European Social Charter, Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities as well as human rights in the work of police. In addition to lectures and seminars for the first year the summer school program included the moot court competition of the European Court of Human Rights, which received very positive evaluations from the participants of the summer school.

Lectures and seminars were conducted by Latvian experts (Dr.iur. Gita Feldhune, LL.M Martins Mits, LL.M Vineta Skujeniece, LL.M Ilze Berzina, as well as the Professor of the Riga Graduate School of Law and Invited Professor of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Dr.iur. Ineta Ziemele) and invited experts (Dr. Martin Scheinin from the Institute for Human Rights, Åbo-Akademi University and Dr. Egidius Bieliunas, Judge of the High Court of the Lithuania). The course was orientated towards practical work, thus in addition to the lectures students spent much time on case studies prepared by the lecturers.

During the course the participants visited the following governmental and non-governmental institutions of the Republic of Latvia: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Parliament (Saeima), the Constitutional Court, National Human Rights Office, the Latvian centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies and the Riga Graduate School of Law. In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs participants met with the Minister of the Foreign Affairs Indulis Berzins who gave the information on the main directions of the Latvia foreign policy in the way to the European Union and NATO, as well as information on the structure of the Ministry. Visit of the summer school participants to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was represented in the homepage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the visit to the National Human Rights Office it's Director Olafs Bruvers gave detailed information on the main tasks and responsibilities of the Office, informed about the complaints filled to the Office and the results achieved. In the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies the participants were introduced to the work of the one of leading human rights NGOs in Latvia and discussed recent developments in the state concerning the relationships between governmental and non-governmental institutions. Judge of the Constitutional Court Romans Apsitis and his Assistant Velga Slaidina welcomed the participants at the premises of the Constitutional Court where they told the summer school participants the history of the Court's foundation and the recent changes in its work in connection with the introduction of constitutional complaints mechanism in Latvia. In the Parliament the participants had a meeting with Leonora Tukane, Head of the Consular and Service Department, who showed the premises of the Parliament and told about the main aspects of history of the Parliament building.

On the basis of the Latvian example and of those from the participating countries, the participants received practical knowledge on the contents and implementation of international and national human rights norms in practice. In their home countries all participants are working in the institutions dealing with human rights issues. Common history and the use of the Russian language as a working language of the course made the exchange of ideas easier and more efficient - it was acknowledged by the participants themselves. Besides, the course served well the establishment of contacts between the Institute on Human Rights and the representatives of the different countries as well as among the participants themselves.

Evaluation sheets filled in by the participants at the end of the course show that the participants found the course interesting and useful. Out of 10 possible points, the curriculum in total received 9.4 points, methodology - 8 points, keeping an interest in the course - 9.1 points, usefulness of the course - 9.3 points and moot court competition - 9.3 points. The lecturers as well as the visits and moot court competition also received high marks. The most relevant suggestions made were the following: more practical work, including more moot-courts and other interactive methods; invite more practitioners to give lectures.

This year were received more than sixty applications to the course. The course will be reported in the Official Gazzette. Therefore, the Institute is full of commitment to continue organising this summer school in the next years.