Ombudsman: certain NGOs lie to UN committee, discrediting Latvia in the process
Certain non-government organizations provide unclear and false information to United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and, possibly, intentionally discredit Latvia, said ombudsman Juris Jansons, commenting on a recent session of the aforementioned committee.
The ombudsman is critical of work efficiency of UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and is shocked about reported from certain NGOs about the situation in Latvia.
The 96th session of United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was held in Geneva throughout 8 – 9 August. During this session, members of the committee also discussed the report on Latvia. At the end of 2017, the country had submitted a report on Latvia’s accomplishments in realizing prevention of all forms of racial discrimination. Alternative reports were submitted by two NGOs – Latvian Human Rights Committee of the International Federation of Human Rights and Latvian Human Rights Centre – in July 2018.
The ombudsman says he is shocked over NGOs submitting imprecise and false information to international institutions. With that, the ombudsman questions whether or not this falsified information was submitted intentionally to discredit Latvia.
«The information and explanation for the situation, as presented by those organizations, are clearly lies. While Latvia’s state officials and ombudsman’s office have spent years explaining specific things to international institutions, such as the fact that Latvia’s non-citizens are not stateless, there comes a couple dozen people who claim the opposite. It is also sad and absolutely unacceptable for me as an ombudsman that UN committee trusts such human rights organizations without checking validity of their information,» Jansons explains.
UN committee’s note regarding the ombudsman’s absence from the session is also out of place, he adds. The ombudsman regularly provides recommendations to state institutions on matters of equality and discrimination. Opinions have also been submitted to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in relation to the absence of systemic violations in specific periods. For example, in relation to the matter of Roma community rights, the ombudsman has been closely cooperating with International Roma Association since 2011. A cooperation memorandum has been signed with this organization. On addition, on 20 October 2017, the ombudsman received a certificate of recognition from this organization for his contribution to the development and preservation of Roma culture and history. This king of cooperation and active work of organizations is the surest way of protecting interests of different groups of people, said Jansons.
The ombudsman has sent a letter to UN committee, pointing out the lack of consequent approach in methodology employed by UN committees in relation to reports from national human rights institutions and NGOs. Jansons believe the methodology is not unified – it its rather chaotic. He also says there are no comprehensible criteria mechanism that governs submission of information and opinions. The ombudsman urges UN to do everything to make sure rules for participation in sessions are equally comprehensible, accessible and efficient for human rights institutions and NGO.