Om­buds­man: cer­tain NGOs lie to UN com­mit­tee, dis­cred­it­ing Latvia in the process

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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.

Edijs Pālens/LETA

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