ECHR finds no violation of human rights in Latvia's gradual transition to state language education

  • 2023-11-16
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has not found any violation of human rights in Latvia's transition to state language education, according to a press release issued by the ECHR Court Registrar.

The ECHR Chamber unanimously ruled on Thursday that there had been no violation of the European Convention on Human Rights in its judgments in the case Dzibuti and Others v. Latvia and Valiullina and Others v. Latvia, which were delivered on September 14.

In Valiullina and Others v. Latvia, the complainants raised concerns about amendments to the 2018 law that increased the number of subjects that had to be taught in Latvian - the national language - in public schools, resulting in a reduction of teaching time in Russian.

In 2019, the Constitutional Court ruled on the constitutionality of the amendments in question, declaring them to be in line with the Constitution.

Dzibuti and Others raised concerns about the same changes, but in private schools. In this case, the Constitutional Court also found that the legislator had struck a balance between promoting the use of the national language and the right of persons belonging to minorities to preserve and develop their identity and culture by regulating the use of languages in general education in private schools.

In particular, the ECHR found that the measures taken by the Latvian Government to increase the use of the official language in schools were proportionate and necessary, in particular to ensure unity in the education system and a sufficient level of Latvian language proficiency to enable the population to participate effectively in public life.

As reported, in September the ECHR delivered its judgment in the case Valiullina and Others v. Latvia, unanimously concluding that there had been no violation of the applicants' rights guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

In their complaints to the ECHR, filed on October 21, 2019, January 19, 2020 and February 9, 2020, the applicants alleged that the 2018 education reform, which provided for an increase in the proportion of Latvian as the language of instruction, affected their right to education in the minority language - Russian - as children of families belonging to national minorities.

The applicants alleged that the 2018 reform restricted the applicants' children's right to access to education and discriminated against them on the basis of language. The complaints in these cases were filed in connection with the reform of education at the primary education level in public educational institutions.