Latvia - Overview

Until recently, Latvia had maintained a mostly enabling space in which civic freedoms could be freely exercised. Since late 2017 however, the introduction of tighter regulations coupled with an unwillingness by the state to engage civil society and increasing public vilification of some civil society groups has led to a more hostile atmosphere for civil society. The civil society society sector in Latvia is relatively small in size due to limited financing and limited popular support. Although recent years had witnessed an increasing engagement with public policy by civil society, that progress is currently stalled as many government ministries are making it difficult for CSOs to access policy makers. The freedoms of association and expression are guaranteed by the Constitution and mostly respected in practice. Online spaces are mostly unobstructed but some minorities including LGBTI people do face abuse, and robust debate on news websites is common. There are some concerns about use of the courts and isolated attacks on journalists in previous years. A lack of transparency on media ownership is also a concern. Latvians are free to assemble peacefully in public.