Human rights Commissioner: ratify Istanbul Convention

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The Council of Europe's Commissioner for human rights, Nils Muižnieks, finished a five-day visit to his homeland Friday with a call for Latvia to ratify the Istanbul Convention on violence against women "without delay."

Speaking to journalists at the conclusion of his visit, Muižnieks said he had engaged in a great number of meetings with officials, NGOs and various other institutions and individuals concentrating on three main areas: women's rights, children's rights and the rights of lesbian, gay and transgender people.

On the prickly question of the Istanbul convention, to which the Justice Ministry has said it is implacably opposed, as previously reported by LSM, Muižnieks said he saw no reason not to ratify.

"I invite ratification of the convention without delay... the Convention is not against family values - violence directed against women is against family values," Muižnieks said. 

"It would send a good signal that Latvia is against violence directed against women... Latvia was the last member state to sign the convention - I very much hope it won;t be the last to ratify it," Muižnieks said.

He also took some time to speak to LSM about his visit.

CoE Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks
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On reasons why refugees granted asylum by Latvia are moving on to Germany, Muižnieks said it was likely because the support payments they were given were too small.

"If you don't give them enough to rent a flat, which usually requires a two-month deposit payment, it's hard to see what they are supposed to do," said Muižnieks.

However, Latvia was by no means alone in being criticized by the Council of Europe over the response to the refugee crisis, he admitted.

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