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Monday 18.06.2018 | Name days: Madis, Alberts
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Next Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner criticizes integration policy

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Nils Muiznieks

The Latvian language issue is a political matter. Integration is already taking place simultaneously with the public policy. However, the integration policy has been failing quite often, especially in recent years. Many solutions come too late, says Nils Muižnieks (Latvia), who has been elected the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

He stresses that he is not going to come up with any statement relating to the language referendum, because it does not apply to human rights but politics. However, Muiznieks will take part in the referendum and vote against Russian as the second official language.

“I am waiting for a political party that will bring together Latvians, Russians and people of other nationalities. That would be a solution and Latvia would become more integrated at least on the political level. Strict refusal to talk with Russians in their language is a mistake. If they are not addressed in Russian, they will not hear, he told LNT broadcast 900 sekundes.

According to him, the Citizenship Act has not been revised for 13 years. People recognize that the law is outdated, but no one can stand up and make a difference, at least by granting citizenship for children of non-citizens, Muiznieks says.

“My prediction is that there will always be the issue of immigrants and immigration in Latvia, so we need one public official, for example, the Integration Minister, who would deal with these issues.”

In his view, non-discrimination and participation are essential for integration to be successful. Instead of punishing people, ways to encourage them to live peacefully side by side must be sought.

Muiznieks will enter in office on April 1. His duties will include taking care of human rights in all member states and addressing complaints that reach courts. He will have to come up with his own initiatives.

Speaking about Latvia, the issues he might have to address include the judiciary, freedom of expression, minorities and conditions in detention facilities. However, the Commissioner cannot compel any country to do anything. He can only come up with advice, collaborate with non-governmental organizations and draw the attention of the media and the Council of Europe.

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