BRUSSELS, August 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Delegation works to raise awareness of 295,000 Latvian "non-citizens" at the heart of the EU
Last week, senior representatives of the Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress conducted a two-day visit to Brussels in order to meet with the European Commission and a string of human rights NGOs to draw attention to the plight of 295,000 residents of Latvia denied their right to participate in the democratic process.
The 295,000 stateless Russians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Poles and Jews living in the country are unable to vote due to the country's citizenship laws.
Non-citizens cannot form political parties, run for political office or vote in national, local and European elections, and rights to free movement, employment and ownership of land are limited. More than 33 categories of employment are barred to non-citizens - including many public offices, the military and the police force.
The Non-Citizens' Congress campaigns for reform of these laws to widen access to the democratic process and raise awareness of the situation at a pan-European level.
During the course of the visit, the Congress met with representatives of the European Commission's Home Affairs Unit for Immigration and Citizenship and Justice Unit for Citizenship and Children's Rights. They also held bi-lateral meetings with the influential European Network Against Racism, European Programme for Integration and Migration, Open Society Foundation and European Public Health Alliance.
Elizabete Krivcova, the co-founder and speaker of the Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress said:
"The Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress was delighted to have the opportunity to draw attention to the plight of the almost 300,000 residents of Latvia who are currently denied their right to participate in the democratic process.
"It is deeply regrettable that, in 2013, a European Union country can seek to deny the most basic of fundamental rights to its citizens. That's why we felt so strongly about the need to draw this matter to the attention of the European Commission. We look to bodies such as the Commission to force the Latvian Government to right this historic wrong.
"We are delighted to have received such a warm welcome in Brussels and look forward to increasing the pressure on the Latvian Government in the coming months. When it comes to guaranteeing fundamental EU rights for the country's residents, the Latvian Government must no longer hold back so many of the country's residents"
For more information, please visit http://www.noncitizens.eu.
SOURCE Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress