November 08, 2011
Amendments to Latvia’s citizenship law that, among other changes, would again allow World War II-era exiles to obtain dual citizenship have been reintroduced in the Saeima.
The parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, led by Ilma Čepāne of the Unity (Vienotība) party, on Nov. 3 brought back six bills that were left unresolved when the last Saeima was dissolved. One of those, the amendments to the citizenship law, was originally introduced Feb. 17.
One amendment in the bill would single out exiles, allowing them to register as Latvian citizens. Under the proposal, the amendment would apply to persons who were Latvian citizens and who left their homeland between the start of the first Soviet occupation on June 17, 1940, and May 4, 1990, when Latvia’s Supreme Council declared the country’s independence from the U.S.S.R. The descendants of exiles also would be allowed to register as Latvian citizens.
Also under bill Nr. 52/Lp11, dual citizenship would be allowed for:
- Latvian citizens who have obtained citizenship in another European Union or European Free Trade Association member state.
- Latvian citizens who have become citizens of another members state of the NATO defense alliance.
- Latvian citizens who have become citizens of another country with which Latvia has a treaty recognizing dual citizenship.
- Latvian citizens who have the permission of the Cabinet of Ministers to maintain their Latvian citizenship.
- A child born outside of Latvia, if at least one of their parents is a Latvian citizen and if under the law of the country in which they are born a child automatically become a citizen of that country.
- A person who as a result of marriage becomes a citizen of another country.
In the 10th Saeima, the amendments were referred to the Legal Affairs Committee, which set up a subcommittee to study the proposed changes. The subcommittee set a deadline of Sept. 1 to take comment on the amendments, but by that date the 10th Saeima was running out of time.
Likewise, the 11th Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee on Nov. 1 decided to again form a subcommittee to look at the law.
One of the charges of the subcommittee, Čepāne said in a Saeima press release, will be to call on experts to provide input on the proposed amendments.
“The citizenship law has not been amended for many years,” she said, “and fundamental changes in it are needed in both content and technical points.”
The subcommittee will examine four separate areas, according to the press release: dual citizenship for exile Latvians; citizenship for children born abroad to Latvian citizens; situations in which Latvian citizenship has been revoked because of current restrictions on dual citizenship; and the granting of Latvian citizenship to children born in Latvia to non-citizens.
Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000-2012 he was editor of the website.