Time to resolve non-citizen newborns issue: President

Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis on June 29 repeated his call for a definitive end to the problem of children with "non-citizen" status being born in Latvia.

During a meeting with the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks (who is also Latvian), Vejonis repeated his previous advice to Saeima urging lawmakers to allow automatic Latvian citizenship to all, regardless of whether their parents are classed as "non-citizens".

Vejonis and Muiznieks agreed that the issue should be addressed and it was in the interests of those children to get the Latvian citizenship upon birth, the Latvian president's office said.

"It is high time for us to sort out the issue of granting citizenship to newborn children of non-citizens," the president said.

"Every child is precious to Latvia, and we have to demonstrate this not only by words but also by deeds. Therefore I intend to come forth with a legislative initiative that would give the Latvian citizenship to children born to Latvia's non-citizens upon birth, unless the parents choose for the baby the citizenship of a different country," the Latvian president said, adding that he would do this in fall when the parliament resumed work after the summer recess.

Muiznieks said that, under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that has been ratified by all member states of the Council of Europe, every child has the right to citizenship.

"I welcome the Latvian president's legislative initiative to establish the rights of the non-citizens' newborns to the Latvian citizenship. It is clearly in the interests of those children to acquire citizenship upon birth," he said.

As previously reported, during a discussion in late 2016 the Latvian president suggested that children born to non-citizens in Latvia should become Latvian citizens the moment they had been born. "We must stop creating more citizens of a non-existent country and subjects of the former Soviet Union," he said.

Since then he has raised the issue with increasing frequency and with Saeima showing little intention of developing its own legislation, has seized the initiative himself and will use his presidential right to propose legislation himself.

Under the effective Latvian law, parents, who are Latvia's non-citizens, upon registration of their child can choose to register the child as a Latvian citizen but the Latvian citizenship is not given to non-citizens' children automatically upon their birth.

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