On Thursday, 28 January, the Saeima adopted a declaration on protection of under-aged Latvian nationals abroad. The declaration calls upon competent authorities in other countries to respect Latvia’s obligation to protect the rights of Latvian nationals abroad and to immediately notify the diplomatic or consular missions of Latvia about all cases when a guardian needs to be appointed to protect the interests of a child.
“In recent years there have been several disturbing cases when authorities in other countries have removed children from families residing in the country and put them up for adoption. This declaration is a political statement aiming to ensure better protection of our children abroad,” Inese Laizāne, Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee, said previously, also noting that the declaration urges to abide by the obligation set in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations, and to take into account the desirability of continuity in the child's upbringing, as well as the child's ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background.
The declaration requests foreign competent authorities to ensure that the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations is observed in custody cases involving Latvian nationals. Failure to fulfil the obligation stipulated in Articles 36 and 37 of the Vienna Convention may lead to violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Furthermore, the declaration calls for evaluation of measures pertaining to placing children for adoption, as well as re-examining any procedures that violate the aforementioned international legal norms regarding the rights of the child.
The declaration also calls on foreign authorities to cooperate with the diplomatic and consular missions of Latvia and its competent authorities by taking into consideration their recommendations on further care for the child in a family environment consistent with Latvian culture.
The declaration tasks the Cabinet of Ministers with distributing this declaration to the member states of the European Union and the European Economic Area and other countries, which have previously violated the aforementioned articles of the Vienna Convention. The Cabinet of Ministers must also ensure protection of children’s rights outside the territory of Latvia by providing support and participating in processes initiated by foreign authorities, courts and international institutions. The Cabinet of Ministers must request foreign competent authorities or courts to pass over to Latvian jurisdiction custody cases involving under-aged Latvian nationals.
The Cabinet of Ministers has been delegated the task of compiling information on legal norms, requirements and traditions regarding children’s rights abroad and distributing this information to Latvian families living abroad.
Saeima Press Service