Cultural rights are stated in the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, Chapter 8, 113: “The State shall recognise the freedom of scientific research, artistic, and other creative activity and shall protect copyright and patent rights.” 114 states: “Persons belonging to ethnic minorities have the right to preserve and develop their language and their ethnic and cultural identity.”
The Law on Free Development of National and Ethnic Groups and their Rights on Culture Autonomy (1991) defines that there are autochthonous inhabitants Livs and national and ethnic groups. This law guarantees rights to cultural autonomy.
In 2005 the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (Council of Europe, 1995) was ratified specifying the interpretation of the concept ‘national minorities’. Since the term ‘national minorities’ is not defined in the Convention, the Saeima agreed that under the Convention this term “refers to those citizens of Latvia who differ from Latvians in terms of culture, religion or language, who have been traditionally living in Latvia for generations, who consider themselves as belonging to the state of Latvia and the Latvian community, and who would like to preserve and develop their culture, religion and language”.
When defining the notion of ‘national minorities’, Latvia relied on
definitions by the states parties to the Convention, adding an important
element – unless specific exceptions are prescribed by the law, “persons who are not citizens of Latvia or another State but who permanently and legally reside in the
Republic of Latvia, who do not belong to a national minority within the meaning of the Convention as defined in the declaration submitted by Latvia, but who identify themselves with a national minority that meets the definition contained in the declaration, enjoy the rights prescribed in the Convention”.
Upon ratifying the Convention, the Saeima also adopted two declarations stating that Latvia regards as binding paragraph two of Article 10 and paragraph three of Article 11 of the Convention governing the spheres of use of certain minority languages, provided they do not contradict the Satversme (Constitution of Latvia) and other laws and regulations effective in the Republic of Latvia and governing the use of the official language.
In addition, the main national planning documents recognize culture, cultural heritage, and rights to participate in cultural activities and develop creativity as the basic values.
Since 2007, the Ombudsman institution is in charge of protection of the rights of Latvian inhabitants. See also chapter 4.1.1.