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

Activities Report
1999

Contents

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

Annex:
Publications

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. In 1999 the Institute has been supported by the Faculty of Law and foreign donors. The main donors were the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights, the Swedish Helsinki Committee, the OSCE Mission to Latvia, the Soros Foundation - Latvia, the Council of Europe.

2. Research

In cooperation with the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights the Institute a long-term research project on the Integration of Minorities in Latvia was started in 1997 and continued in 1999. The second step of the project was the analysis of social-political and legal aspects of Language as Means of Integration and it was done by the team of experts consisting of both the staff of the Institute and the invited experts: Aina Antāne, Reinis Āboltiņš, Mārtiņš Mits, Ineta Tāre. The third step of the project was the analysis on the Possibilities for Political Participation of Minorites in Latvia carried out by Dace Āboliņa, Reinis Āboltiņš, Mārtiņš Mits.

With the assistance from the OSCE Mission to Latvia the Institute started carrying out the project on writing the first original Textbook in Latvian Language on Human Rights . The team of the authors includes distinguished Latvian human rights experts: Egils Levits, Mārtiņš Mits, Nils Muižnieks, Ineta Tāre, Ineta Ziemele.

With the assistance from the Soros Foundation Latvia the Institute carried out a research on the Access to Information in Latvia . It was done by the Institute's researchers Ilze Bērziņa and Gita Ozoliņa. The research included analysis of the existing legislation and the recommendations as to its improvement.

Upon the invitation from the Parliamentary Committee on the State and Municipal Administration the Institute prepared its Opinion on the Amendments to the Law on Public Organisations and their Associations . Upon the request from the Parliamentary Committee on the Protection of the Rights of a Child the Institute gave its Opinion on the Law on the Rights of a Child . The opinions were prepared by Mārtiņš Mits, Ineta Tāre and Ineta Ziemele.

3. Publications

During 1999 the Institute continued to prepare the Latvian Human Rights Quarterly in Latvian and English as well as other publications. It has been possible thanks to the financial support of the Swedish Helsinki Committee and the Soros Foundation Latvia.

3.1. Latvian Human Rights Quarterly No. 9-12: A Yearbook on Constitutional Protection of Human Rights (in Latvian).

This edition of the Quarterly is devoted to the supplementing of the Latvian Constitution with the Chapter on Human Rights that took place in late 1998. The Quarterly is expected to contain analytical articles by Egils Levits, Judge of the European Court of Human Rights from Latvia, John Packer, Legal Adviser to the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Mārtiņš Mits, Acting Director, and Gita Ozoliņa, Deputy Director of the Latvian Human Rights Institute. The edition will also contain the texts of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Rules of the Court edited in Latvian by the Institute, analysis of the Case law of the Latvian Constitutional Court and overview of the case law of the European Convention on Human Rights.

3.2 Latvian Human Rights Quarterly No. 7/10: A Yearbook on Constitutional Protection of Human Rights (in English)
has been prepared in English with the same contents as the Latvian edition and its publishing is expected to take place in early 2000.


Within the series of publications "The library of the University of Latvia Faculty of Law Human Rights Institute" the preparations of the publication Several Aspects of the Integration of Minorities in Latvia (in Latvian) have been finalised and its printing is expected to take place in early 2000. This is a part of the research carried out by the Institute in co-operation with the Norwegian Human Rights Institute. This publication is edited by Ineta Ziemele and it is intended to serve as a teaching material for the law students as well as useful source of information for academics and all the persons interested in minority issues in Latvia.

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" 3rd edition.

4. The Right to Human Rights Education

In 1999 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 Human Rights Course is a mandatory course for 4th year law students. It develops and broadens knowledge in relation to both theoretical and practical human rights issues. The Course consists of 16 lectures and seminars (Annex 2). Upon the successful passing of the examinations, the students obtain 2 credit points. The best students receive Certificate stating the successful fulfilment of all the requirements of the Course. In Spring of 1999, almost 200 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 4 credit points. The most successful students are awarded with Certificates. In Autumn of 1999, 46 students attended the Course.

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 17 September, 1999 the Institute organised one day conference with the co-operation of the University of Latvia, Supreme Court of the Republic of Latvia, Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Latvia, Latvian Lawyers' Association, Information and Documentation Centre of the Council of Europe in Riga and with the financial assistance from the Council of Europe. The topic of the Conference was "Right to Fair Trial in Latvia and the European Convention on Human Rights". More than 15 prominent representatives of different legal professions were invited to take part in discussions, including Mr.Pāvels Gruziņš, Senator of the Supreme Court, Ms.Ingrīda Labucka, advocate, Former Minister of Justice, Mr.Aivars Borovkovs, President of the Latvian Lawyers' Association. Dr.Ineta Ziemele contributed to the discussions as the Council of Europe expert. A number of issues were identified that could potentially cause or already are causing problems for Latvia in relation to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Conference gathered around 80 participants.

5.2 Other Conferences and Seminars Organised by the Institute.

Roundtable Discussion on "Individual's Name and Human Rights" was held on 15 June 1999. More than 20 experts: linguists, lawyers and politicians, including Mr.Antons Seiksts, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Parliament, Mr.Dzintars Ābiķis, Chairman of the Committee on the Education and Culture of the Parliament, Dr.Hab.Aina Blinkena, Council of Science, Dr.Nils Muižnieks, Director of the Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies, came together to discuss the human rights aspect of spelling the names of persons belonging to minorities according to Latvian laws. The conclusions from the event are believed to serve as a basis for the further discussions on the possible amendments in the Parliament.

Moot Court Competition on the European Convention on Human Rights
was held on 4 June within the framework of the Human Rights Course for the 4th year law students. Ten students were involved in contesting at law before the "Court". The Court was represented by Mr.Aivars Endziņš, President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia; Ms.Anita Ušacka, Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia and Mr.Andris Guļāns, Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Latvia.

Public lecture "United Nations and Human Rights" was given by Dr.Gudmundur Alfredsson, Director of Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Lund (Sweden) at the University of Latvia on 10 November 1999.

Seminar on the "Access to Information in the State Institutions" organised on 12 November 1999 with the financial assistance from the Soros Foundation Latvia. The Institute presented to the public the results of the research carried out by the Institute's researchers. Dr.Martin Scheinin, Director of the Human Rights Institute of the Abo Academi, Finland, shared Finnish experience in granting the right to access to information as well as introduced participants to the international human rights standards in the field. Around 100 interested persons participated. An International two days seminar on the "European Convention on Nationality" was organised on 25-26 November 1999 in co-operation with the Naturalisation Board of the Republic of Latvia and the Council of Europe. The speakers included Mr.Valdis Birkavs, Minister of Justice, Mr.Roland Schärer, Head of the Nationality Section, Federal Police Office of Switzerland, Mr Andrew Walmsley, Director of Nationality Directorate, Home Office of the United Kingdom, Mr.Jānis Lagzdiņš - Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Implementation of the Law on Citizenship. Participants of the seminar identified a number of problematic aspects in the citizenship legislation in Latvia, however, concluded that there are not major obstacles for the ratification of the European Convention on Nationality by Latvia.

5.3 Various events


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

1. Ineta Ziemele


17 February, Minority Definition in the Latvian Law speech delivered in 57th Scientific Conference of the University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia.

18 February, participation in the discussions on The Role of Science in relation to Market Economy organised by the Ministry of Education and the newspaper the "Education and Culture", Riga, Latvia.

9 April, Latvia as a Democratic and Civil State: Transition from Totalitarian to Civil society speech delivered in the 10th Conference of the Latvian Intellectuals Association's, Riga, Latvia.

17 April, Citizenship and Minorities in the Baltic States speech delivered in the Nordic Symposium on Human Rights "The Future Human Rights Agenda", Oslo, Norway.

30 April - 1 May, participation in the working group drafting recommendations on minority rights according to the 1992 UN Declaration in the European Centre for Minority Issues, Flensburg, Germany.

4 May, International Legal Consequences of the 1990 Independence Declaration, paper presented in the conference organised by the President of the State on the occasion of the 9th Anniversary of the Latvian Independence Declaration, Riga, Latvia.

29 May, The Role of Human Rights in the Integration of Society in Latvia,, paper presented in the conference "Integration of Society in Latvia", Riga, Latvia.

15 June, participation in the round-table discussions "Individual's Name and Human Rights", Riga, Latvia.

2. Mārtiņš Mits


17 February, Analysis of the Chapter 8 of the Latvian Constitution in the Light of the European Convention of Human Rights, speech delivered in 57th Scientific Conference of the University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia.

13 March, What are Human Rights? speech delivered in the youth conference organised by the Cēsis District Child and Youth Centre, Cēsis, Latvia.

27 July - 20 August, lectures on How to Understand the Contents of a Right? and Human Rights as a Branch of Law in a series of courses organised by the Soros Foundation Latvia for journalists in Nīca, Daugavpils, Līgatne, Jūrmala, Jaunanna, Pedvāle, Latvia.

27 August, presentation of the paper Status of International Economic and Social Rights Norms in Latvia in the Advanced Human Rights Course, Abo, Finland.

1 October, Human Rights as a Branch of Law, lecture delivered in the seminar for NGO community in Valka district, Valka, Latvia.

12 November, presentation on How to Achieve Transparency in the State Administration? in Plenary Session "European Legal System and the Rule of Law in Latvia" organised by the Ministry of Justice, Latvian Lawyers' Association and Soros Foundation Latvia, Riga, Latvia.

25 November, presentation Latvian Courts' Practice Relating to Citizenship Issues in the conference the "European Convention on Nationality", Riga, Latvia.

14 December, presentation on the Activities of the Legal Clinic and the Human Rights Institute within the University of Latvia in seminar organised by the Swedish Refugee Council, Riga, Latvia.

21 December, moderator of the discussions in the seminar "Ethnic Discrimination and Minorities" organised by the Technical Assistance Team to the Approximation of the Latvian Legislation to that of the European Communities, Riga, Latvia.

3. Gita Ozoliņa


25 August - September 3, lectures on How to Understand the Contents of a Right? in a series of courses organised by the Soros Foundation Latvia for journalists in Mežotne and Ēdole.

8 September - participation in the televised roundtable discussion with the high school students organised by the Rēzekne Television "I in the world, the world in me: human rights".

12 November, presentation of the results of the research The Right to Access to information in the Latvian legislation in the conference "Access to Information in the State Institutions", Riga, Latvia.

19-21 November, participation in the Refugee, Asylum and Human Rights Law Legal Clinics Working Seminar, Krakow, Poland.

25 November, presentation The compatibility of the Latvian Law on Citizenship with the European Convention of Nationality in the conference the "European Convention on Nationality", Riga, Latvia.

4. Ilze Bērziņa


12 November, presentation of the results of the research The Right to Access to information in the Latvian legislation in the conference "Access to Information in the State Institutions", Riga, Latvia.

21 December, participation in discussions in the seminar "Ethnic Discrimination and Minorities" organised by the Technical Assistance Team to the Approximation of the Latvian Legislation to that of the European Communities, Riga, Latvia.

5. Oskars Galanders


17 February, Human Rights Today and Tomorrow, speech delivered in 57th Scientific Conference of the University of Latvia, 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 1999, the Institute invited the following guest lecturers to give presentations in the human rights courses taught by the Institute: Undine Bollows and Heidi Bottolfs (OSCE Mission to Latvia), Egils Levits (Judge of the European Human Rights Court), Nils Mui?nieks (Latvian Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies), Gudmundur Alfredsson (Director of Raoul Wallenberg Institute, Sweden).

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.

Ilze Bērziņa received the LL.M in Human Rights at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden.

Gita Ozoliņa continued the work on her Ph.D thesis at the Legal Studies Department, Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.

Ineta Ziemele lectured in Human Rights Law 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.

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. Asbjorn 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)
Director

She specialises in Public International Law, Public European Law and Human Rights. She taught 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 more than 30 publications on Public International Law and Human Rights issues in Latvia and abroad. In 1999 she held a position of Programme Councellor at the Directorate of Human Rights, Council of Europe.

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

Gita Ozoliņa, LL.M (Central European University, Budapest, Hungary), Bak. jur. (Latvia)
Researcher, Deputy Director

She specialises in constitutional law and human rights protection in states of emergency. Teaches human rights at the Institute and in spring semester will teach comparative constitutional law at the Riga Graduate School of Law. Currently she is working on her Ph.D thesis on Emergency Powers at Legal Studies Department, Central European University.

Ilze Bērziņa, LL.M (Lund, Sweden), Bak. jur. (Latvia)
Researcher

Her specialisation is police and human rights. In 1999 she defended her Master Thesis on the Protection of the Human Rights of the Police Officials at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden. She has organised a number of events related to human rights for law enforcement officials and she took part in several research projects about different Human Rights Issues under the auspices of the Latvian Human Rights Institute.

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

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.
Researcher

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.

Irēna Makare, 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
Publications


Dr. iur. Ineta Ziemele:

1. "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

2. Chapters 2 - 3 in the book Dokumenti par Latvijas valsts starptautisko atzīšanu, neatkarības atjaunošanu un diplomātiskajiem sakariem [Documents on the International Recognition of the State of Latvia, Restoration of Independence and Diplomatic Relations]. Latvijas arhīvistu biedrība, Latvijas Ārlietu ministrija, Latvijas Valsts vēstures arhīvs: Riga, 1999. ISBN 9984-510-64-6

3. "Article15", in Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A Common standard of achievement (G.Alfredsson, A.Eide eds., 1999) pp. 297 - 324, ISBN 90-411-1168 (HB) ISBN 90-411-1201-4 (PB)

4. "The Dilemma of Language Use in Latvia: Obligation and Necessity" Latvian Human Rights Quarterly, 1998, No. 5/6, pp. 29-45.

5. "The Right of Persons Belonging to National Minorities to enjoy their own Culture: The Council of Europe's Standards" in Latvijas Vēstnesis [The Official Gazette], 10 November 1999.

6. Review of Stefan Talmon's book Recognition of Governments in International Law: With Particular Reference to Governments in Exile, 1998, in European Journal of International Law, vol. 10, no. 3, 1999.

7. "Spelling of Non-Latvian Names in the Latvian Language. What Does the Human Rights Say? Diena [daily "The Day"] 3 March, 1999.

8. "Let Us Be Multicultural!", Respublika [daily "The Republic] 4 April 1999.

9. "About the Human Rights Institute. Its Mission", Latvijas Vēstnesis [Official Gazzette]. 12 febrary 1999.

10. "The Deep Waters of Kosovo Crises: International Law in the Process of Development, Diena [daily "The Day"] 2 Febraury 1999.

11. "Civic Participation - Basic Element for Latvia's Democratisation. What is Democracy for?" Diena [daily "The Day"] 3 April 1999.

12. "The Language Issue in Latvia: a Key to Tolerance and Integration". Diena [daily "The Day"] 10 May 1999.

13. "Latvia and International Community: A Two Way Road?" Diena [daily "The Day"] 24 July 1999.

Mārtiņš Mits:

1. “How does the Constitution Protect Us?”. Respublika [daily “The Republic] 26 January, 1999.

2. In co-operation with Gita Ozoliņa ”The reform of the Constitutional Court is unnecessary”. Diena [daily “The Day”] 14 August, 1999.

3. In co-operation with Ineta Ziemele ”The requirement of 1000 members: human rights violation.” Diena [daily “The Day”] 3 November, 1999.

4. “Accessibility of Information and the State Administration” Latvijas Vēstnesis [The Official Gazzette] 16 December 1999.

5. “Latvian Constitution in the Context of European Human Rights Standards”. Cilvēktiesību žurnāls Nr. 9-12 (Latvian Human Rights Quarterly Nr. 9-12),1999.

Gita Ozoliņa:

1. In co-operation with Mārtiņš Mits ”The reform of the Constitutional Court is unnecessary”. Diena [daily “The Day”] 14 August, 1999.

2. “State of Emergency and the Latvian Constitution”. Cilvēktiesību žurnāls Nr. 9-12 (Latvian Human Rights Quarterly Nr. 9-12), 1999.