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

Activities Report
2002



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 contribute to the development and consolidation of human rights law as a branch of law in Latvia;
2) to support and promote national experts in matters of human rights by involving them into the Institute's activities as well as to bring up a new generation of scholars and experts;
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 of Law. In 2002 the Institute has been supported by the Faculty of Law and foreign donors. The main donors were the Soros Foundation - Latvia, the Riga Graduate School of Law, the Institute for Human Rights of the Åbo Akademi University (Turku, Finland) and the Council of Europe.


2. Research

Research "The Quality of Court Judgements in Latvia"

The research "The Quality of Court Judgements in Latvia" concentrates on analysis of how the requirements of the law regarding the descriptive and motive part of court judgements are observed. In addition, the research takes a look at factors that may affect the quality of court judgements in Latvia, in particular analysing the role of legal education, the requirements of legal practice for a candidate to be appointed as a judge, training of judges and mechanism for controlling the work of judges. The research is carried out by Vineta Skujeniece, researcher of the Human Rights Institute. Financial support to the research is provided by the Soros Foundation - Latvia. The outcome of this research will be published as a monograph.

Study on the Implementation and Dissemination of International Humanitarian Law in Latvia

At the request of the regional delegation of the ICRC the Human Rights Institute conducted the study on the compliance of Latvia with its obligations under international humanitarian law. The aim of the study is to point out the areas in which the governmental action is needed to ensure full compliance, and to suggest the steps to be taken. It is expected that the results of the study will be communicated to the government at a conference held at the beginning of 2003. The study is carried out by Gita Feldhune and Ineta Tare. Financial support to the research is provided by the Regional delegation of the International Red Cross. The Latvian version of this study is at a stage of preparation.

Research "Legislation and Practice of Media in Latvia"

The research was carried out by Gita Feldhune. The study concentrated on defamation legislation and practice, broadcasting legislation and practice and access to information. Financial support to the research was provided by the Open Society Institute in Budapest (Hungary).


3. Publications

Latvian Human Rights Quarterly No. 13-14: Police and Human Rights. European Actualities (in Latvian)

Issue No. 13-14 in Latvian was published in January 2001. It covers two themes. The first one, often highlighted by the international community, relates to the safeguards in the pre-trial stage and the second one relates to the work of the police in Latvia. This issue also contains several human rights instruments of universal and regional character, some of them published in the Latvian language for the first time - like the Council of Europe Declaration on the Police and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Part C of the Quarterly provides the summaries of the judgements delivered by the European Court of Human Rights as well as some examples of judgements delivered by Latvian courts relating to the activities of the law enforcement personnel. Part D of the Quarterly primarily contains texts of public speeches and articles prepared by distinguished professors and further develops theme permeating the whole edition - development of human rights standards in Europe.

Monograph "Minorities integration aspects in Latvia"(in Latvian)

The second publication in the series "Library of the Human Rights Institute of the University of Latvia, Faculty of Law" - "Minorities integration aspects in Latvia" in Latvian was published in January 2001. This research made by Ineta Ziemele, Aina Antane, Boriss Cilevics, Ilmars Mezs and Nils Muiznieks is the part of co-operation project of Human Rights Institute of the University of Latvia, Faculty of Law and Norwegian Human Rights Institute. The preparation of research was financed by the Norwegian Council of Science, but the publishing - by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Publication was prepared primarily as a teaching aid.


At the stage of preparation
is the third publication in the series "Library of the Human Rights Institute of the University of Latvia, Faculty of Law" - "Human Rights: Judicial Training Manual". The Manual is being prepared by Gita Feldhune, Vineta Skujeniece and Arturs Kucs. The preparation and publication of the Manual is financed by the Institute for Human Rights of the Åbo Akademi University (Turku, Finland).


4. Teaching and Training

Basic Human Rights course, Spring semester, 2002

"Basic Human Rights" is an optional course offered by the Human Rights Institute to the non-law students of the University of Latvia. 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 human right in more detail. The Course consists of 32 lectures and seminars.

Course "European Court of Human Rights", Spring semester, 2002

The course was mandatory for the Master's students of the Legal theory and legal history stream of the Faculty of Law, University of Latvia. Given the small format of the course, it concentrated on the jurisprudence of the European Convention of Human Rights in selected areas only, namely, the right to life, the right to liberty and security of a person, the right not to be discriminated against, as well as on several aspects of the right to a fair trial.

Course "Comparative Constitutional Law", Spring semester, 2002

The course was compulsory for the Master's students of the State history stream and Legal theory and legal history stream of the Faculty of Law, University of Latvia and concentrated on selected issues in comparative constitutional law that are relevant to Latvia, such as, justiciability of economic and social rights, issues related to lustration, human dignity and certain aspects of freedom of speech.

Internet course "International Protection of Human Rights", Autumn semester, 2002

Human Rights Institute offered Internet course "International Protection of Human Rights" to the 4th year law students of the Faculty of Law, University of Latvia. This course was organised by the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University (Finland) and it is the result of Finnish-Baltic co-operation between the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University (Finland), the Faculty of Law at Tartu University (Estonia), Institute on Human Rights at University of Latvia, Faculty of Law at Vilnius University (Lithuania) and the Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights/ Law University of Lithuania, Faculty of Law at Kaliningrad State University (Russia) and the Faculty of Law at Petrozavodsk State University (Karelia, Russia). Course language was English.

The objectives of the Internet Course were to deepen the knowledge of human rights through strengthened capacity to analyse human rights case law, to improve the understanding of the relationship between international human rights law and national law and to develop skills in using human rights resources. The Internet sessions dealt with procedural questions under the European Convention on Human Rights, the freedom of expression, the right to fair trial, non-discrimination and minority rights, gender equality, economic and social rights as well as the right to life, the right to liberty and non-refoulment.

Workshop "European Convention on Human Rights and the Judiciary", April, October, December, 2002

In co-operation with the Latvian Judicial Training Centre and the Council of Europe, a training program continued from the 2001 with the aim of training judges who would continue training the rest of judiciary in human rights issues. Fifteen judges are involved in the program of training of trainers. As the lecturers there were involved Gita Feldhune, Vineta Skujeniece and Martins Mits.


5. Seminars, summer school, lectures and various events

Seminar "Discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin: Latvia and European Union", 31 January, 2002

In co-operation with the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies and the Soros Foundation - Latvia seminar was organised in the frame of presenting the findings of the research study "Implementing European anti-discrimination law: Latvia" made by Gita Feldhune and Martins Mits. The main topics discussed in this seminar were - Latvian anti-discrimination legislation and its conformity with the European Union standards (presented by LL.M. Martins Mits) and representation of ethnic groups in governmental and non-governmental organisations: proportionality, stability, discrimination (presented by Dr. Artis Pabriks).

Summer School "Human rights and their implementation: European and Baltic experience", 12 August - 23 August, 2002

With the assistance of the Council of Europe, the Institute for Human Rights of the Åbo Akademi University (Turku, Finland), the Riga Graduate School of Law, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Lund (Sweden) and the University of Latvia the Human Rights Institute organised 3rd human rights summer school. It was intended to give basic insight into international standards and mechanisms for the protection of human rights with emphasis on minority issues and problems existing in the countries of the former USSR. The course was held in Russian and it was restricted to lawyers and graduate law students from the countries of the former USSR only. Nineteen participants representing ten countries were admitted and the lectures and seminars were conducted by Latvian experts (SJD. 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. 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.

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, the National Human Rights Office, the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies and the Riga Graduate School of Law.

Public lecture "The Rights of Minorities as Fundamental Human Rights in International Law", 21 November, 2002

Public lecture "The Rights of Minorities as Fundamental Human Rights in International Law" was given by Dr.iur. Fernand de Varennes (School of Law, Murdoch University, Australia) at the University of Latvia on 21 November 2002.

Various events

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

Gita Feldhune:

5 November 2002, The application of the European Convention on Human Rights in the judgment of the Senate in the case of L.Strujevics v. "Diena" and Aivars Ozolins [Eiropas Cilvēktiesību konvencijas piemērošana Augstākās Tiesas Senāta spriedumā lietā Laimonis Strujevičs pret a/s "Diena" un Aivaru Ozoliņu], speech delivered in conference "Observation of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights in the Latvian courts", Riga, Latvia.

20 November 2002, Latvia and the European Union's referendum, speech delivered in conference "The European referendum Challenge - Views from Scandinavia and the Baltics", Stockholm, Sweden.

22 November 2002, Language Restrictions and International Human Rights Standards [Valodas ierobežojumi un starptautiskie cilvēktiesību standarti], speech delivered in conference "Electronic Mass media and Integration of the Society", Riga, Latvia.

29 November 2002, Anti-discrimination legislation and practice in Latvia, speech delivered in seminar "Implementation of the European anti-discrimination standards", Brussels, Belgium.

Vineta Skujeniece:

4 April 2002, On human rights based interpretation of certain provisions of the law on Procurement for state and local government needs [Par likuma "Par iepirkumu valsts un pašvaldību vajadzībām" atsevišķu pantu tulkošanu no cilvēktiesību viedokļa], speech delivered in conference "Participation of the society in the monitoring of procurement for state and local government", Riga, Latvia.

5 November 2002, Decision of the Senate of the Supreme Court in the case of I.Muhina [Augstākās tiesas Senāta spriedums I.Muhinas lietā], speech delivered in conference "Observation of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights in the Latvian courts", Riga, Latvia.

4 December 2002, The impact of the draft Law on the Judiciary in improving the quality of judgements [Jaunā Tiesu varas likumprojekta loma tiesu spriedumu kvalitātes uzlabošanā], speech delivered in conference "Judicial Power in Latvia", Riga, Latvia.


6. Publications

Gita Feldhune:

1. "Legal analysis of national and European anti-discrimination legislation", A comparison of the EU Racial Equality Directive and Protocol Nr.12 with anti discrimination legislation in Latvia by Gita Feldhune and Martins Mits, published by the Migration Policy Group, Interights and European Roma Rights Center.

2. "Silence of laws" and the competence of the Latvian Constitutional Court ["Likumu klusēšana un Satversmes tiesas kompetence"]: Likums un Tiesības [Statute and Law], March 2002.

3. What does the Podkolzina case dictate? ["Ko diktē Podkolzina"]: the public policy site politika.lv [policy.lv], 16.04.2002.

4. Heavy is the arm of the Constitutional Court. ["Smaga ir Satversmes tiesas roka"]: Diena [daily "The Day"], 17.04.2002.

5. Application of the European Convention on Human Rights in the Senate judgment in L.Strujevics v. "Diena" and Aivars Ozolins case ["Eiropas Cilvēktiesību konvencijas prakse Augstākās Tiesas Senāta spriedumā lietā Laimonis Strujevičs pret a/s "Diena" un Aivaru Ozoliņu"]: Likums un Tiesības [Statute and Law], October 2002.

6. Will there still be opinions in Latvia? ["Vai Latvijā vēl būs viedokļi?"]: the public policy site politika.lv [policy.lv],17.12.2002.

Vineta Skujeniece:

1. Decision of the European Human Rights Court in the case Calvelli & Ciglio v. Italy: new approach to the application of Article 2 of the European Human Rights Convention and its consequences. ["Eiropas Cilvēktiesību tiesas spriedums lietā Calvelli un Ciglio pret Itāliju: jauna pieeja Eiropas Cilvēka tiesību un pamatbrīvību aizsardzības konvencijas 2.panta piemērošanā un tās sekas"]: Likums un Tiesības [Statute and Law], April 2002.

2. Poverty does not release from the obligation to observe human rights ["Nabadzība neatbrīvo no cilvēktiesību ievērošanas"]: the public policy site politika.lv [policy.lv], 06.03.2002.

3. The Constitutional Court's school ["Satversmes tiesas skola"]: the public policy site politika.lv [policy.lv], 27.03.2002.

4. The application of the European Convention on Human Rights in the Senate judgment: the case of I.Muhina ["Eiropas Cilvēktiesību konvencijas piemērošana Augstākās tiesas Senāta spriedumā: Ingas Muhinas lieta"]: Likums un Tiesības [Statute and Law], October 2002.

5. Latvian courts must learn how to diminish the workload of Strasbourg ["Latvijas tiesām jāmācās atslogot Strasbūra"]: the public policy site politika.lv [policy.lv], 12.11.2002.

Arturs Kucs:

1. Minorities: practice is more important than the definition ["Minoritātes: prakse svarīgāka par definīciju"]: the public policy site politika.lv [policy.lv], 15.10.2002.

Aivars Vidzups:

1. On summer school in human rights ["Par vasaras skolu cilvēktiesībās"]: Latvijas Vēstnesis [The Official Gazette], 24.09.2002.


7. Documentation Center

The Human Rights 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 organisations, leaflets and brochures from human rights groups as well as human rights periodicals. The Institute receives UN, Council of Europe, OSCE documents.


8. Advisory Board

Members of the Advisory Board are:

Dr. Gudmundur Alfredsson
- Professor of the Lund University (Sweden), Director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (University of Lund, Sweden);

Dr. Arie Bloed
- Executive Director of the Constitutional & Legislative Policy Institute (Hungary);

Dr. Asbjorn Eide
- Professor of the Oslo University (Norway), Former Director, Senior Fellow of the Norwegian Institute for Human Rights (Norway);

Mr. Egils Levits,
- Judge of the European Court of Human Rights;

Mr. Morten Kjaerum
- Director of the Danish Center for Human Rights (Denmark);

Dr. Martin Scheinin
- Professor of the Åbo Academy University (Finland), Director of the Institute for Human Rights of the Åbo Academy University (Finland), Member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee;

Dr. Ineta Ziemele
- Guest Professor of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (University of Lund, Sweden) and Professor of the Riga Graduate School of Law (Latvia).


9. Staff

Ineta Ziemele, Dr.iur. (Cambridge, UK)
Adviser to the Institute

Specialises in Public International Law, European Public Law and Human Rights. Currently Guest Professor of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Lund University (Sweden) and Professor in Public International Law and Human Rights at the Riga Graduate School of Law. Author of many publications on Public International Law and Human Rights issues in Latvia and abroad. Editor in Chief of the "Baltic Yearbook of International Law".



Martins Mits, LL.M (Nottingham, UK)
Adviser to the Institute

Specialises in questions related to the European Convention on Human Rights. Lecturer of the Riga Graduate School of Law. In February he quit the position of the director of the Institute to pursue his doctoral studies. Currently he is working on his Dr.iur thesis on the European Convention on Human Rights at Lund University (Sweden). Author of many publications on the conformity of Latvian legal norms with the European Convention on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.



Gita Feldhune, SJD. (Central European University, Budapest, Hungary)
Acting Director / Editor in Chief of the Latvian Human Rights Quarterly

Specialises in constitutional law and human rights. Teaches human rights and comparative constitutional law at the University of Latvia. Author of many publications about different constitutional law and human rights questions. Responsible for the organising of Human Rights Institute's daily work and editing the texts of the Latvian Human Rights Quarterly, runs all the work in relation to the publishing of the Quarterly. In February she took over the position from Martins Mits and defended her PhD thesis dealing with the issue of state of emergency and separation of powers at Central European University in Budapest.



Arturs Kucs, European Master in Human Rights and Democratization (University of Padova, Italy)
Researcher

Specialises in human rights, with a particular interest in rights of minorities and issues related to freedom of speech. He joined the Institute in fall 2002 after obtaining his master's degree.



Vineta Skujeniece, LL.M (Riga Graduate School of Law, Latvia)
Researcher

Specialises in topics on the right to life, the right to liberty and right to fair trial. Works on the research "The Quality of Court Judgements in Latvia" which concentrates on analysis of how the requirements of the law regarding the contents of the descriptive and motive part of court judgements are observed.



Aivars Vidzups, law student
Office Manager / Assistant Editor of the Latvian Human Rights Quarterly

Currently the 4th year student at the Faculty of Law, University of Latvia. Responsible for the Institute's budget, settlement of payments, provision of technical equipment for the Institute, ensuring technical and other means for the Institute projects as well as helping to prepare project proposals. Responsible for the practical and technical work in the process of publishing the Latvian Human Rights Quarterly.