Latvia calls for boosting UN human rights system, preventing repressions against civil society - foreign minister

  • 2021-02-23
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Latvia calls for strengthening the UN human rights system and preventing repressions against civil society, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) said while participating in the High Level Segment of the 46th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) via video link.

As LETA was told at the Foreign Ministry, in his speech at the session, Rinkevics particularly called attention to increasing reprisals against civil society and the deteriorating human rights situation in Russia and Belarus.

"Latvia is concerned about massive repressions against civil society, human rights defenders, journalists and the political opposition in the Russian Federation," the Latvian minister said, calling for an immediate release of Russia's jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny and other peaceful protesters.

The foreign minister pointed to the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus including unlawful detentions, violence, enforced disappearances, physical and mental torture, as well as sexual violence. Latvia calls on the Human Rights Council to create an international accountability mechanism to address human rights violations in Belarus, the minister said.

He also repeatedly drew attention to a deterioration of the human rights situation in the illegally annexed Crimea and the occupied regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Welcoming the United States decision to re-engage with the Human Rights Council, the Latvian minister confirmed Latvia’s readiness to work together on strengthening of the HRC and the UN human rights architecture. It is vital that unrestricted access of UN bodies be ensured to all territories and conflict zones, and sustainable and predictable funding provided for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rinkevics said.

On February 23, Rinkevics made an online statement for the Side Event with a panel discussion on the Human Rights Situation in Crimea organized by Ukraine as part of the session of the UN Human Rights Council. The minister noted that seven years since the aggression by the Russia the human rights situation in the illegally annexed territories continues to worsen. 

“We are particularly concerned about violations of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities and other ethnic and religious groups,” Rinkevics said, reiterating Latvia’s steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On February 24, Rinkevics will take part in the Ministerial meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism, “New Frontiers for Human Rights – the Internet and Climate Change, and how to advance pandemic preparedness and response”. 

In his statement, the foreign minister will underline that it is critical for the countries to step up countering disinformation triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Working in international organizations, Latvia continues promoting media and information literacy as key long-term measures to address disinformation.

Since 2019, Latvia has been a member of the Alliance for Multilateralism led by Germany and France.