Head of state Valdis Zatlers
Head of government Valdis Dombrovskis (replaced Ivars Godmanis in March)
Death penalty abolitionist for ordinary crimes
Population 2.2 million
Life expectancy 72.3 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 12/10 per 1,000
Adult literacy 99.8 per cent
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were exposed to harassment by state officials. There were reports of ill-treatment in prisons.
The global financial crisis had a particularly marked impact on Latvia. Severe cuts in public expenditure reduced funding to the police force, to maintaining the national minimum wage and to exempting minimum incomes from tax. Public sector wages were cut by more than 20 per cent.
Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
On 8 May the Commission on Meetings, Marches and Demonstrations of the Riga City Council authorized a Baltic Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride march organized by NGOs from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. On 13 May, however, 34 of the 60 city councillors called for the decision to be revoked, saying the march was offensive to public decency and posed a threat to public security. On 14 May the Council withdrew permission for the march, but the following day the Riga Municipal Court overturned the ban. The march went ahead on 16 May, with protection provided by the police. Counter demonstrators hurled homophobic verbal abuse.
Torture and other ill-treatment
In December, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, reporting on a visit in December 2007, expressed concern at allegations of physical illtreatment by prison officers at J?kabpils, Daugavpils
and Jelgava prisons, and at C?sis Correctional Centre. The Committee criticized the authorities for not fully investigating such allegations in an impartial and independent process. The Committee further reported high levels of violence between prisoners, which the authorities failed to prevent or limit. This resulted in self-harmings by inmates seeking transfer to safer prison units.