Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2018, 09:04 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2001 - Latvia

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 20 June 2001
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2001 - Latvia , 20 June 2001, available at: [accessed 23 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

At the end of 2000, only one refugee was known to be in Latvia.

Latvia considered seven asylum applications during the year – three pending from 1999 and four filed in 2000. Latvia granted asylum to one person, from Congo-Kinshasa, and rejected three. The applications of two persons were deemed "manifestly unfounded," and one case was closed.

At year's end, no cases were pending in the first instance. Two cases were pending appeal.

Asylum Procedure

Latvia ratified its accession to the UN Refugee Convention and enacted its National Law on Asylum Seekers and Refugees in 1997. The law regulates refugee status determination for persons from outside the former Soviet Union (FSU). Another law enacted in 1995 addresses questions of status for FSU citizens.

In February 1999, Latvia adopted legislation on the status of stateless persons in Latvia. The law grants legal status to certain individuals who do not qualify for refugee status or who cannot acquire noncitizen passports under the 1995 law for FSU citizens.

Asylum applications are examined by the Center for Refugee Affairs (CRA) within the Department for Citizenship and Migration in the Ministry of the Interior. Appeals of negative decisions are examined by the Refugee Appeals Council, an independent body under the Ministry of Justice.

Asylum seekers can submit their applications at a land border, at airports, or – if within Latvian territory – at state police stations or CRA offices. A police officer interviews the applicant, makes an initial appraisal of the application, and forwards the case to the CRA, which first decides on the applicant's admissibility.

Persons granted refugee status receive permanent residence permits and work authorization. For the first year, they also receive refugee benefits that should cover all expenses – including rent, food, and language instruction – as well as the equivalent of $30 (50 Lats) per month.

During the year, Latvian officials drafted a revised refugee law and expected it to be adopted by the end of 2001.


Under Latvia's refugee law, all asylum seekers are to be detained ("accommodated in special premises at border crossing points or state police stations") during the initial stages of the regular asylum procedure and throughout the accelerated procedure. If the CRA finds a case to be admissible, the asylum seeker is transferred to the Asylum Seekers Reception Center, known as "Mucenieki," in the city of Riga. At the end of 2000, the center housed two asylum seekers, both from Russia.

Rejected asylum seekers who do not, or cannot, leave the country voluntarily within seven days are automatically detained pending their removal from Latvia.

Because Latvia does not have a temporary protection system and does not have adequate resources to deport them, rejected asylum seekers can be left in detention, and legal limbo, indefinitely.

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