Institute on Human Rights of the Faculty of Law at the University of Latvia

Activities Report


1. Introduction

2. Research

3. Publications

4. The Right to Human Rights Education

5. Conferences, seminars and lectures

6. Visitors and Contacts

7. Documentation Center

8. Advisory Board

9. Staff

Publications of Acting Director of the Latvian Human Rights Institute Dr.iur. I.Ziemele in 1998.

1. Introduction

The Institute on Human Rights of the Faculty of Law at the University of Latvia (Human Rights Institute) was established at the Faculty of Law of the University of Latvia in September 1995, thereby formalising its commitment to human rights. It marked another step in the reform of legal education in Latvia which is aimed at preparing lawyers who are able to develop the national legal system in accordance with the principles of democracy and human rights. It also corresponded with the calls of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights and the UN Decade on Human Rights Education (1995-2000).

The three main policy goals of the Institute are:
1) to bring up a new generation of scholars and experts in Latvia in matters of human rights;
2) to support and promote national experts in matters of human rights by involving them into the Institute's activities; and
3) to offer the possibility to the relevant State authorities to use their own experts.

The main aims
of the Institute are:
1) research on human rights issues in Latvia and abroad;
2) high quality human rights education for both law and non-law students of the University of Latvia;
3) publishing Latvian Human Rights Quarterly;
4) publishing training materials, monographs and articles on human rights issues;
5) establishing and developing human rights library for the teaching and training purposes at the University of Latvia.

The Institute is part of the Faculty of Law of the University of Latvia and its undergraduate courses on human rights are included in the curricula of the Faculty. The Institute has so far been mainly supported by the foreign donors. In 1998 the main donors were the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights, the PHARE micro programme, the Swedish Helsinki Committee, the Soros Foundation - Latvia, the Council of Europe, the Information and Documentation Center of the Council of Europe in Riga.

2. Research

In cooperation with the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights the Institute has conducted the research on the conformity of Latvian legislation with the European Convention on Human Rights. The long-term research project on the Integration of Minorities in Latvia was started in 1997 and continued in 1998. The general overview on the status of minorities and the relevant international and national legal acts has been finalized. This was done by the group of experts consisting of both the staff of the Institute and the invited experts: Aina Antāne, Boriss Cilēvičs, Edgars Endzelis, Ilmārs Mežs, Mārtiņš Mits, Nils Muižnieks and Ineta Ziemele. The second step of the project is the analysis of social-political and legal aspects of Language as Means of Integration.

Upon the invitation of the State Language Center Ineta Ziemele prepared the analysis and the commentary of the Draft Law on the State Language. The Institute was asked to participate in the above mentioned project as a part of the working group on the Draft Law. The Institute was represented by Mārtiņš Mits and Ineta Tāre.

By preparing master's essay at the University of Nottingham (Great Britain) Faculty of Law, Mārtiņš Mits did the research on the draft amendments to the Satversme (Constitution), the chapter on human rights, and - the conformity of this chapter with the European human rights standards.

Since 1996 the Institute annually produces the National Report on Human Rights Situation in Latvia for the Human Rights Directorate of the Council of Europe. It collects together primary materials on human rights in Latvia, including draft laws or laws recently adopted, parliamentary debates, judicial decisions referring to the European Convention on Human Rights, bibliographical information on publications, and the development of the doctrine on human rights in Latvia.

3. Publications

During 1998 the Institute continued to publish the Latvian Human Rights Quarterly in Latvian and English. It has been possible thanks to the financial support of the Swedish Helsinki Committee.

3.1 Joint Latvian Human Rights Quarterly No. 6 and Law Journal No. 5

The joint issue was published in cooperation with the Latvian Judicial Training Center. The issue addressed acute human rights questions at the international and constitutional level and the implementation problems in Latvia. The purpose of the issue was to draw the attention of the judges to the Human Rights questions discussed in that issue.

3.2 Latvian Human Rights Quarterly No. 3/4 (in English)

The title of the issue is Human Rights Debate in Latvia: 1995-1997. The issue contains the most important and attractive articles published in the press during 1995-1997. They show different points of view in relation to human rights. The main questions which have been the concerned focus of the Latvia's society were: citizenship, refugees and asylum seekers, problems of equality.

3.3 Latvian Human Rights Quarterly No. 5/6 (in English)

The title of the issue is Minority Rights Handbook. It was prepared in cooperation with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden. With the permission of Prof. Gudmundur Alfredsson and Prof. Göran Melander, their compilation of the standards of minority rights is published. This issue is meant to serve as means of education for the teaching conducted by the Institute and for practitioners dealing with questions in relation to minorities in Latvia.

3.4 Latvian Human Rights Quarterly No. 7/8 (in Latvian)

This issue will publish all the material already published in English in the issue No. 5/6 in Latvian. Thus, for the first time in Latvia the biggest amount of the documents on minority rights will be available in Latvian.

In 1998, in Chapter A "Articles" of the Latvian Human Rights Quarterly the following authors have published their articles: Gudmundur Alfredsson, Arie Bloed, Pieter van Dijk, Asbjųrn Eide, Javier de Cremandess, Egils Levits and Ineta Ziemele.

Part B "Documents"
contains the following documents:
Law on Citizenship with amendments as of June 22, 1998 (In English),
Law on the Status of the Former USSR Citizens Who are not Citizens of Latvia or any other State (in English),
Law on Residents' Register (in English),
Law on the Entry and Residence of Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons in the Republic of Latvia (in English),
International documents regulating minority rights.

Part C "Court practice"
contains annotations and commentaries on the following judgments:
The review of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Mrs. Vogt v. Germany case with the commentary of Egils Levits (in Latvian).
The judgment of the Bauska District Court in the Kazarovecs v. Iecava High School case with the, commentary by Egils Levits (in Latvian).
The judgment of the Riga Center District Court in the Jelena Bajanova and Sergejs Bajanovs v. the Citizenship and Immigration Department case with the commentary by Ineta Ziemele (in English).
The judgment of the Bauska Distric Court in the Kazarovecs v. Iecava High School case (in English).

Part D "Information"
continued to provide with information of the activities of the Institute and gave the overview on the news of our library.

In 1998, the Institute started new series of publications "The library of the University of Latvia Faculty of Law Human Rights Institute." It is supposed to publish the research produced by the Institute. In 1998, under the edition by Ineta Ziemele the first collection of articles was published under the title: Implementation of Human Rights in Latvia: The Judiciary and Administrative Process.

In the stage of preparation
is the translation of the book by Pieter van Dijk & van Hoof "Theory and practice of The European Convention on Human Rights".

4. The Right to Human Rights Education

In 1997/98 the Institute held the Basic Human Rights Course for non-law students of the University of Latvia and the Advanced Course on Human Rights Implementation Mechanism for law students of the University of Latvia.

The Advanced Human Rights Course is designed for those law students who have a special interest in human rights and who have decided to specialise in this area. The Advanced Human Rights Course develops and broadens knowledge in relation to both theoretical and practical human rights issues. The Course consists of 32 lectures and seminars (Annex 2). According to the requirements of the Course students have to write a paper on some appointed or self chosen topic. In the end of the Course the written examination is compulsory. Upon the successful completion of the course, the 3rd and 4th year law students obtain 2 credit points. The best students receive Certificate stating the successful fulfillment of all the requirements of the Course. In Spring of 1998, 60 students attended and successfully completed the Course.

The Basic Human Rights Course is an optional course in the Autumn Semester for all students of the other Faculties of the University. The purpose of the Course is to give a general understanding of human rights, the role of human rights in a democratic society and to introduce with each right in more detail. The Course consists of 32 lectures and seminars (Annex 3). Upon the successful completion of the Course students receive 2 or 4 credit points according to the requirements of each faculty. The most successful students are awarded with Certificates. In Autumn of 1998, 32 students attended the Course.

For each of the Course, the Institute prepares relevant training materials which consist of international human rights instruments, relevant national legislation, suggested literature for each topic covered in the respective Course and extracts from relevant publications and case law (court practice).

5. Conferences, seminars and lectures

Conferences and seminars are the additional means of promoting human rights education in Latvia in which the Institute has been actively involved since 1995.

5.1 The Annual Autumn conference.

Following the established tradition, on 6 November, 1998 the Institute organized the international one day conference with the cooperation of the Information and Documentation Center of the Council of Europe in Riga and the Council of Europe. It was dedicated to the problems of the application of the European Convention on Human Rights in the courts of Latvia. Institute invited the participants of the conference to analyse and discuss the specific judgments. In the discussion the experts from the Council of Europe: Juhani Kortteinein (Finland) and Egidius Bieliunas (Lithuania) took part. In total there were 78 participants in the event.

5.2 Series of lectures dedicated to the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

During the whole year the Institute had a possibility to host several guest-lecturers. They gave their lectures for the students of the University and Courses held by the Institute and for the general public.
This series was concluded on 11 December 1998 with a public lecture "How to make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a Living Reality?" by CBSS Commissioner on Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, including the Rights of Persons belonging to Minorities, Professor Ole Espersen. The lecture was attended by the Speaker of the Saeima Mr. Jānis Straume, Deputy Speeker Mr. Indulis Bērziņš, other members of Saeima, representatives of diplomatic corps and government, professors of the University of Latvia and students.

5.3 Various events

The members of the Institute have participated and delivered speeches in the following events:

1. Oskars Galanders

19 February 1999. Lecture "Death Penalty and Human Rights" at the conference "Death penalty, Society and Security of Individuals." Riga, Latvia.

28 March 1998. Judge in ELSA Latvia (The European Law Students Association Latvia) Moot Court Competition. Riga, Latvia.

28-30 May 1998. Lecture "The Rights of the Child in Latvia Legislation" at the conference "The Guarantee of the Rights of the Child in the Baltic States - the Conformity with International Standards." Vilnius, Lithuania.

2. Mārtiņš Mits

1-3 December 1998. Lecturer in series of training course "Human rights ABC" for representatives of NGOs. Tukums, Talsi, Latvia.

3. Ineta Ziemele

27 January 1998. Lecture "The Rights to Citizenship in the Baltic States" at the University of Connecticut School of Law, Hartford, USA.

20 March 1998. Lecture " The Continuity of the State in International Law: the Baltic states and the Russian Federation" at the 8th Annual Fulbright Symposium at the Golden Gate University, School of Law, San Francisco, USA.

September -November 1998. Guest-lecturer at the Master Programme at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, Lund, Sweden.

15 November 1998. Lecture "Latvia in the Context of Modern Europe" for Latvian society in the occasion of Latvia's 80th Anniversary in Lund, Sweden.

4 December 1998. Lecture "The Teaching of European Law at the University of Latvia" at the seminar "The Teaching Methodology of European Law at Universities whose Countries are Participating in the Process of Integration," Breslav, Poland.

7 December 1998. Lecture "The Protection of Economic and Social Rights in Central and Eastern European Countries" at the seminar "The Promotion of Economic and Social Rights in European Social Charter," Martuljek, Slovenia.

16 December 1998. Lecture "Human Rights of Latvia Residents: Citizenship and Domicile" at the training seminar for civil servants of the Citizenship and Immigration Department, Riga, Latvia.

6. Visitors and Contacts

The Institute maintains close relations with other academic organizations, lawyers and NGOs which are active in human rights field in Latvia and abroad. These contacts are maintained by working on research projects, teaching, organizing conferences and seminars.

6.1 Guest lecturers

In 1998, the Institute invited the following guest lectures: Aivars Endziņš (Chairman of the Constitutional Court), Egils Levits (Judge of the European Human Rights Court), Nils Muižnieks (Latvian Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies), Caroline Taube (Ph.D. Cand. University of Uppsala, Sweden), Dace Āboliņa (Advisor of the Saeima Legal Office), Ulla Zumente (Representative of the UNHCR in Latvia), Ivars Indāns (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Solvita Harbacēviča (the European Integration Office).

6.2 Activities of the Institute members abroad

Members of the Institute improve their knowledge in other universities in Europe and carry the research projects and lecture in and outside of Latvia.
Mārtiņš Mits received the LL.M in Human Rights in at the University of Nottingham, UK.
Ineta Ziemele finished the Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Cambridge, UK and was invited to lecture Public International Law and Human Rights for master students at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden.

7. Documentation Center

The Institute regularly supplements the collection of documents and books available at the Institute. The collection contains international and national documents on human rights; case-law of the European Commission and the Court of Human Rights, scholarly publications, text books, manual, reports of international, governmental and non-governmental organizations, leaflets and brochures from human rights groups as well as human rights periodicals. The Institute receives UN, Council of Europe, OSCE documents. In 1997/98, with the financial support of Soros Foundation - Latvia about 30 new books were bought.

8. Advisory Board

Members of the Advisory Board are:
Dr. Gudmundur Alfredsson
, Professor, Co-Director, Raoul Wallenberg Institute, University of Lund (Sweden);
Dr. Arie Bloed
, Director, Constitutional & Legislative Policy Institute
Dr. Asbjųrn Eide
, Professor, Norwegian Institute for Human Rights (Norway);
Mr. Egils Levits,
Judge, European Court of Human Rights, France;
Mr. Morten Kjaerum
, Director of the Danish Center for Human Rights (Denmark);
Dr. Martin Scheinin
, Professor, Director, Abo Academy University of Human Rights (Finland), Member of the UN Human Rights Committee.
Mr. Arnold Willén
, Vice-Chairman, the Swedish Helsinki Committee (Sweden);
Mr. Gvido Zemrībo
, Former Ambassador of Latvia in Denmark.

The last meeting of the Board was held on 8-9 January 1999.

9. Staff

Ineta Ziemele, Dr.iur. (Cambridge, UK), M.I.L. (Lund/Sweden) Bak. jur. (Latvia)

She specialises in Public International Law, Public European Law and Human Rights. She teaches these subjects at the Faculty of Law and the Institute. She is a guest lecturer in Public International Law and Human Rights at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden. She is the author of 30 publications on Public International Law and Human Rights issues in Latvia and abroad.

Mārtiņš Mits, LL.M (Nottingham, UK), Bak. jur. (Latvia)
Researcher, Deputy Director

He specialises in questions related to the European Convention on Human Rights. Teaches human rights at the Institute. Lecturer for different target groups in Latvia on human rights. He is the author of the several publications on the conformity of Latvian legal norms with the European Convention on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.

Ineta Tāre, Mag. jur. (Latvia), Bak. jur. (Latvia)

Her specialisation is economic and social rights, with special attention to labor law. She has lectured at training courses organized by the Institute on these issues. During 1998, she leaded the Institute, organised the training on human rights, worked on the project on the Language as Means of Integration in Latvia.

Aina Antāne, dipl.hist.

Her specialisation is comparative research on inter-ethnic relations in Latvia in 20-40s and today, the stereotypes of consciousness, national prejudices, promotion of hatred, issues conflicts and social consolidation. She is working on projects related to minorities.

Oskars Galanders, dipl.jur.
The Editor-in-Chief of the Latvian Human Rights Quarterly

He is responsible for the policy of Latvian Human Rights Quarterly and planning. He has started to lecture Human Rights and give seminars in Public International Law at the Faculty of Law. He has publications on questions of death penalty. He is a master student at the University of Latvia Faculty of Law.

Mārtiņš Pujats, law student
Editor of the Latvian Human Rights Quarterly

He is editing the texts of the Latvian Human Rights Quarterly, runs all the practical work in relation to the publishing of the Quarterly and organises daily work.

Jānis Smiltnieks, law student
Assistant to the editor of the Latvian Human Rights Quarterly, translator

He does the technical work in the process of publishing the Latvian Human Rights Quarterly and translates the documents to-from English.

Andra Avotiņa, law student
Project Officer

She is responsible for the Institute budget, settles all payments, provides technical equipment for the Institute, ensures technical and other means for the Institute projects as well as helps to prepare project proposals.

Annex 1
Publications of Dr. iur. Ineta Ziemele in 1998:

1."The Relationship between International and Latvia Domestic Law." (1998) Law Journal NO. 5 and Latvian Human Rights Quarterly NO. 6.

2. "The application of International Law in the Baltic States." (1997) 40 German Yearbook of International Law pp. 243-79.

3. "The Role of State Continuity and Human Rights in National Matter of the Baltic States," in The Baltic States at Historical Crossroads: problems of Political, Economical, and Legal International co-operation in Awaiting the 21st Century (T. Jundzis ed., 1998) pp. 248-71, ISBN 9984-9085-8-5. (In Latvian and English.)

4. "The Rules of Game in the Name of the State' s Future." Diena, (The Daily Newspaper) 22 April, 1998,

5. "Implementation of Human Rights in Latvia: The Judiciary and Administrative Process" (1998), Riga, 138p., ISBN 9984-19-023-4.

6. "The Citizenship Issue in the Republic of Latvia," in Citizenship and Nationality Status in the New Europe (S. O' Leary & T. Tiilikainen eds., 1998) pp. 187-204, ISBN 0-421-62530-9.

7. "Commentary (to the Case No.2-2324/7)" (1998) 3/4 Latvian Human Rights Quarterly pp.131-36.

8. "The Dilemma of Language Use in Latvia: Obligation and Necessity" (1998) 5/6 Latvian Human Rights Quarterly pp. 29-45 (a Latvian language version is forth-coming).

9. "Latvian Constitutional Guarantees for Human Rights Compare with International Standards" (1998) Mennesker og rettigheter (Nordic Journal of Human Rights) (forth-coming), 15 p.

10. "Article 15" (co-authored with Gunnar Schram), in Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A Commentary (G. Alfredsson and A. Eide eds.) (forth-coming updated edition of the 1992 book) 15 p.

11. "Does current international law require the punishment of dictators?" Diena, 30 November, 1998.

12. "The Latvian Pilot Case in India - Diplomatic protection of Latvian Non-Citizens Abroad." Diena, 29 December, 1998.