Lithuania Human Rights - History

Lithuania Human Rights - History


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Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape and domestic violence are criminal offenses. Penalties for domestic violence depend on the level of injury to the victim, ranging from required public service to life imprisonment. In the first eight months of the year, authorities received 100 reports of rape, compared with 74 during the same period in 2016. Convicted rapists generally received prison sentences of three to five years. NGOs reported that sexual violence against women, including from intimate partners, remained a problem. No law specifically criminalizes spousal rape, and no data on spousal rape was available.

The law permits rapid government action in domestic violence cases. For example, police and other law enforcement officials may, with court approval, require perpetrators to live apart from their victims, avoid all contact with them, and surrender any weapons they may possess.

Domestic violence remained a pervasive problem. In the first eight months of the year, police received 23,026 domestic violence calls and started 6,150 pretrial investigations, 30 of which were for killings, including of three infants.

The country has a 24/7 national hotline and 29 crisis centers for victims of domestic violence. On April 18, the Ministry of Social Security and Labor approved an Action Plan for Domestic Violence Prevention and Assistance to Victims for 2017-2020 and allocated 928,750 euros ($1.1 million) for the year.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, but observers claimed that such cases were rarely investigated. On May 11, parliament amended the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men to strengthen protection from harassment, including sexual harassment, for a person seeking employment.

As of September 28, the equal opportunities ombudsman received one complaint of sexual harassment, by an actress against a theater director, and determined it to be well founded, despite initial inaction by police. After the media reported the ombudsman’s finding in May, the Ministry of Culture fired the theater director.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/.

Discrimination: Men and women have the same legal status and rights. Women nevertheless continued to face discrimination.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship can be acquired either by birth in the country or from one’s parents. The government registered all births promptly.

Child Abuse: Child abuse continued to be a significant problem. The Department of Statistics stated that 2,474 children allegedly suffered violence in 2016. The children’s rights ombudsman reported receiving 201 complaints in the first eight months of the year.

On January 24, a four-year-old boy was beaten to death by his mother and her partner in the town of Kedainiai. Following the incident, on February 14 parliament met in a special session devoted to the protection of children’s rights. During the session it banned all forms of violence against children, including corporal punishment.

The ombudsman for children’s rights reported that government efforts to combat child abuse and aid abused children were ineffective. In the first eight months of the year, Child Line (a hotline for children and youth) received 235,471 telephone calls from children but, because of limited human and financial resources, could respond to only 121,259 calls. Child Line also answered 838 letters from children, whose concerns ranged from relations with their parents and friends to family violence and sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse of children remained a problem despite prison sentences of up to 13 years for the crime. In the first eight months of the year, the Ministry of the Interior recorded 47 cases of child rape and 135 cases involving other forms of child sexual abuse. The government operated a children’s support center to provide special care for children who suffered from violence, including sexual violence. It also operated a center in Vilnius to provide legal, psychological, and medical assistance to sexually abused children and their families.

Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age for marriages for girls and boys is 18.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Individuals involving a child in pornographic events or using a child in the production of pornographic material are subject to imprisonment for up to five years. The Office of the Ombudsman for Children’s Rights reported receiving four complaints of alleged sexual exploitation of children. According to the Ministry of the Interior, officials opened five criminal cases involving child pornography during the first eight months of the year. The age of consent is 16.

Displaced Children: Street children were widely scattered among the country’s cities. Most were runaways or from dysfunctional families. According to the Statistics Department, 2,209 children were missing in 2016.

A number of free, government-sponsored programs assisted displaced children. Government bodies and numerous NGOs administered 60 agencies protecting children’s rights to aid vulnerable children.

Institutionalized Children: As of January 1, temporary guardianship of a child (foster care) may not last longer than 12 months, and guardianship of a child under three years of age may take place in a child care institution only in exceptional cases and for no longer than three months.

In 2016 approximately 3,000 orphans and other children in need of care resided in the country’s 95 orphanages, including 17 operated by NGOs and 54 large-family foster homes. There were five boarding schools for children with disabilities. As of September 1, the children’s rights ombudsman received seven complaints and started three investigations regarding children’s rights violations in these institutions.

Under the law children under the age of three are sent to guardianship institutions only in exceptional cases when they need specialized health care, nursing, or when the family or municipality cannot provide a child with proper care. To speed up the adoption process, the law also limits a child’s stay in an orphanage to 12 months as opposed to the longstanding pattern of temporary care in orphanages lasting five years or longer, representing one of the main obstacles to children’s adoption by new families.

NGOs, child welfare experts, and psychologists contended that the country’s orphanages were detrimental to child development and led to a wide range of social problems, such as delinquency, social exclusion, and vulnerability to trafficking and prostitution. During the year courts issued decisions on abuse allegations in two institutions. The court sentenced the former director of the Viesvile orphanage to three years and 10 months, with a postponement for three years for sexually exploiting boys in his care. The court sentenced four men from the Sveksna residential institution to from two to 4.5 years in prison for sex with minors.

The Ministry of Social Security and Labor began the reorganization of institutional care, financed with 77.4 million euros ($92.3 million) until 2020. As part of this process, the ministry reorganized or closed childcare homes in eight municipalities and provided funding to increase the number of foster parents and improve services to children and families.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

The Jewish community consisted of approximately 3,000 persons. There were reports of anti-Semitic expression, especially on the internet.

Police had instructions to take preemptive measures against illegal activities, giving special attention to maintaining order on specific historical dates and certain religious or cultural holidays.

On February 16, the Lithuanian Nationalist Union held its annual march in Kaunas. Media estimated that 150 participants marched, fewer than in 2016. Police were present to monitor the event, and there were no reports of violence. As in past years, participants chanted the slogan “Lithuania for Lithuanians.”

Following a year of more open public conversations about the country’s participation in the Holocaust, the annual Lithuanian Shrovetide festival or Carnival, “Uzgavenes,” received more media scrutiny than in prior years regarding the tradition of including anti-Semitic and anti-Roma stereotypes among various masked characters depicted during the celebration. For instance, organizers of an Uzgavenes event in Naisiai village published on social media illustrations reminiscent of anti-Semitic propaganda used by the Nazis. On February 24, the media reported that the chairman of the Parliamentary Culture Committee shared the post, drawing strong public rebukes from the Jewish community.

In January actress Asta Baukute gave a Nazi salute during a song contest, sparking concerns. The Jewish community criticized Baukute’s actions as inappropriate, and the Lithuanian National Radio and Television LRT subsequently cancelled the show.

The law enables Jews of Lithuanian descent and others to obtain citizenship. The law reduces bureaucratic obstacles by making it easier for applicants to prove their departure from the country prior to World War II.

On September 11, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis highlighted to American Jewish Congress International Relations director Rabbi Andy Baker his government’s support for Holocaust education and the need to preserve Jewish heritage.

Throughout the year, Lithuanian officials and citizens took part in ceremonies around the country to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. On April 26, the March of the Living took place at the Paneriai Memorial in Vilnius. The march retraced the route of residents of the Vilnius ghetto to the site of their massacre in the Paneriai Forest. In September the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in cooperation with tolerance education centers organized commemoration marches to mark the National Holocaust Remembrance day in Paneriai and 120 other places in the country. Prime Minister Skvernelis participated in both the April and September marches at Paneriai, together with other senior officials. During the September march, the prime minister stressed the need for increased Holocaust awareness in all areas of the country. On September 27, President Dalia Grybauskaite awarded Life Saving Crosses to 43 Lithuanians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. There was no proactive enforcement of these requirements. By September 28, the equal opportunities ombudsman investigated 31 cases of alleged discrimination based on disability (see section 7.d.).

Although the law mandates that buildings be accessible to persons with disabilities, according to the Lithuanian Disability Forum, approximately 50 percent of public buildings were not accessible for persons with disabilities.

On January 3, the equal opportunity ombudsperson found that 65 percent of voting stations were not accessible for persons with disabilities.

According to the Council of Europe, there were an estimated 15,000 persons under 18 with disabilities in the country. The law requires that all schools that provide compulsory and universally accessible education make available education to students with disabilities. The country has a tradition of separate schools for children with various disabilities, and the majority of children attended separate schools segregated from the mainstream educational facilities and system. According to the Lithuanian Disability Forum, only 16.5 percent of 109 schools inspected in the 2011-2015 period were accessible to persons with disabilities, with 31.2 percent having limited accessibility and 52.3 percent being completely inaccessible. The inspection also found only 40 percent of the buildings of establishments of higher education adapted to the needs of students with reduced mobility.

The law prohibits persons with disabilities who have been deprived of their legal capacity from voting or standing for election.

On January 1, amendments to the civil code and the code of civil procedure to afford persons with mental disabilities greater rights during competency hearings and to address shortcomings found by the ECHR in a 2012 decision came into effect. The government continued implementation of the National Strategy for Social Integration of Persons with Disabilities for 2013-19. During the year the Department for the Affairs of the Disabled obligated 16 million euros ($19 million) as part of this strategy, which provided support to social care institutions for persons with disabilities and funding for civil society organizations to improve services for persons with disabilities.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The law prohibits discrimination against ethnic or national minorities, but intolerance and societal discrimination persisted. According to the 2011 census, approximately 14 percent of the population were members of minority ethnic groups, including Russians, Poles, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Tatars, Karaites, and Jews.

According to a former Vilnius County prosecutor, judges and other law enforcement officials seldom prosecuted discrimination and incitement of racial, ethnic, religious, or other hatred on the internet, giving priority to “real-life” crimes with identifiable victims.

In April 2016 the Vilnius City Council began a Romani integration plan to move residents from their settlement to government housing in other parts of the city. As of October 11, it moved nine families.

Representatives of the Polish minority, approximately 200,000 persons according to the 2011 census, continued to raise concerns about education for ethnic minorities in the country. They also complained about a legal requirement that all students, whether native Lithuanian speakers or not, complete a single, uniform Lithuanian-language examination at the end of their studies. Restrictions on the use of Polish in street signs and on official documents, particularly passports, remained contentious.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The antidiscrimination laws apply to LGBTI persons, however societal attitudes toward LGBTI persons remained largely negative.

On June 16, the ECHR informed the government that it would consider a petition by Pijus Beizaras and Mangirdas Levickas regarding authorities’ refusal to investigate instances of homophobic hate speech online. The complainants claimed that the prosecutor’s office and the national courts unlawfully refused to open a pretrial investigation regarding homophobic online comments in response to a 2014 picture on a personal Facebook profile. The picture engendered more than 800 comments on the social network, with the majority of comments inciting violence against the two men pictured and the LGBTI community in general.

The law permits individuals to go through gender reassignment procedure, but civil authorities refused to register gender reassignment, since there was no corresponding legislation to enable gender reassignment procedures. On April 7 and May 2, the Vilnius City District Court ordered the Vilnius Civil Registry to change the personal identification documents of two transgender men.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

The NGO community reported that individuals with HIV/AIDS were often subject to discrimination, including in employment, and treated with fear and aversion.


Lithuania

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Lithuania, country of northeastern Europe, the southernmost and largest of the three Baltic states. Lithuania was a powerful empire that dominated much of eastern Europe in the 14th–16th centuries before becoming part of the Polish-Lithuanian confederation for the next two centuries.

Aside from a brief period of independence from 1918 to 1940, Lithuania was occupied by Russia beginning in 1795, was controlled by Germany for a brief period during World War II, and was incorporated into the U.S.S.R. in 1944 as one of its constituent republics. On March 11, 1990, Lithuania declared its independence by a unanimous vote of its newly elected parliament. The new Soviet parliament acknowledged Lithuania’s independence on September 6, 1991. Lithuania was admitted into the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004. The capital is Vilnius.

Lithuania is bounded by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland and the detached Russian oblast of Kaliningrad to the southwest, and the Baltic Sea to the west.


Lithuania violated the ECHR

From February 2005 to March 2006, Abu Zubaydah, linked with the organization of the 9/11 attacks, was held and interrogated at a facility in Lithuania codenamed Detention Site Violet. It should be noted that he was not officially charged with anything and that he is currently imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

The Court unanimously ruled that Lithuania cooperated with the United States in carrying out the secret Rendition Detention Interrogation Program targeting High-Value Detainees suspected of terrorism.

This led to Lithuania committing numerous violations of the European Convention on Human Rights with respect to Abu Zubaydah, who was secretly detained: inhuman treatment, violations of the right to liberty and the right to respect for private life. As there was no effective investigation into these actions in Lithuania, the Court also found a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

This decision is not yet final and will come into force in three months should the case not be referred to the Grand Chamber. Any party to the case may request such a referral.


Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

A. Freedom of Expression, Including for the Press

The constitution provides for freedom of expression, including of the press, and the government generally respected this right. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for the press.

Freedom of Expression: The constitutional definition of freedom of expression does not permit slander disinformation or incitement to violence, discrimination, or national, racial, religious, or social hatred. Inciting hatred against a group of persons is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years. Inciting violence against a group of persons is punishable by imprisonment for up to three years.

It is a crime to deny or “grossly to trivialize” Soviet or Nazi German crimes against the country or its citizens, or to deny genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.

Press and Media, Including Online Media: Independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views. They are subject to the same laws that prohibit hate speech and criminalize speech that grossly trivializes international and war crimes.

It is illegal to publish material that is “detrimental to minors’ bodies or thought processes” or that promotes the sexual abuse and harassment of minors, sexual relations among minors, or “sexual relations.” Human rights observers continued to criticize this law. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) groups claimed that it served as a rationale for limiting LGBTI awareness-raising efforts and that agencies overseeing publishing and broadcast media took prejudicial action against the coverage of stories with LGBTI themes.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: On April 26, parliament amended the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public granting the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania (LRTK) the right to impose a 72-hour suspension on television programs that posed a threat to public and national security. The LRTK may impose this suspension without a court order on television programs from countries both within and outside the EU, the European Economic Area, and from European states that ratified the Council of Europe’s Convention on Transfrontier Television.

Libel/Slander Laws: The law makes insulting or defaming the president of the country in mass media a crime punishable by a fine. Authorities did not invoke it during the year.

Internet Freedom

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority.

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

B. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The government generally respected the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, with the exception of some organizations associated with the Soviet period.

Freedom of Association

Although the law provides for this freedom and the government generally respected it, the government continued to ban the Communist Party and other organizations associated with the Soviet period.

C. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

D. Freedom of Movement

The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.

E. Internally Displaced Persons

F. Protection of Refugees

Abuse of Migrants, Refugees, and Stateless Persons: The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern.

Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees.

Safe Country of Origin/Transit: In compliance with the EU’s Dublin III Regulation, authorities barred asylum seekers arriving from safe countries of origin or transit and returned them to such countries without reviewing the substantive merits of their applications. The government’s participation in the EU’s efforts to address high levels of migration into Europe was an exception to this policy.

Employment: Refugee employment opportunities were primarily concentrated in construction, hospitality (restaurants), manufacturing, and housekeeping. Highly skilled positions required Lithuanian, English, or Russian language skills. The lack of language skills, job search assistance, and education, and qualifications were major barriers to the employment of refugees.

Access to Basic Services: Refugees said that language barriers prevented them from accessing health and psychological consulting services. The parliamentary ombudsman reported that some children did not attend school. Some schools were unprepared to accept refugee children because they lacked teachers who were able to integrate children into the education system notwithstanding the language barrier.

Durable Solutions: During the year four refugees were settled permanently in the country.

Temporary Protection: The government may grant “temporary protection” to groups of persons. Authorities may also grant “subsidiary protection” to individuals who may not qualify as refugees, and in 2018 the authorities extended temporary protection to 20 persons.

G. Stateless Persons

According to UNHCR as of 2018, 3,320 stateless persons lived in the country. The law permits persons born on the territory or legally residing there for 10 years and who are not citizens of any other country to apply for citizenship. Applicants must possess an unlimited residence permit, knowledge of the Lithuanian language and constitution, and the ability to support themselves.


Lithuania Human Rights - History

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania

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On 21 June, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis discussed the issue of illegal migration to Lithuania with his EU counterparts at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg. In the bilateral meeting, Landsbergis also discussed the situation along the Lithuanian state border with the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein.

On 21 June, the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg focused on the EU's response to repression and systematic human rights violations by the Belarusian regime. Prior to the meeting, Foreign Ministers had an informal breakfast meeting with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, representative of the Belarusian pro-democratic forces, who came to Luxembourg at the invitation of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borell. In the meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis voiced his strong support to the people of Belarus, who were struggling for democratic change in the country. According to Lithuania's Foreign Minister, Belarusians must know that they will not be left to fight the regime on their own. The EU is ready to provide serious economic support for the democratic transformation of Belarus.

On 20 June, snap parliamentary elections were held in Armenia. We congratulate the citizens of Armenia, who have exercised their right to vote and actively participated in the parliamentary elections.

Lithuania regrets Russia's decision to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies in December this year, calls on the country to reconsider this action and to return to the full compliance with the Treaty.

On 17-18 June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs holds the informal Midsummer Snow Meeting, which will bring Lithuanian and foreign security experts together to discuss challenges posed to the transatlantic community and responses to them.

On 16 June in Brussels, the Coreper approved a new package of sanctions against the physical persons and legal entities (78 individuals and 7 companies), who are responsible for systematic human rights violations and repression in Belarus, as well as involved in the forced landing of a Ryanair aircraft in Minsk and the detention of Raman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega.

On 16 June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania summoned a representative of the Russian Embassy in order to express its protest over a violation of the airspace.

On 19 June, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Arnoldas Pranckevičius addressed the inaugural Plenary meeting of the Conference on the Future of Europe held in Strasbourg.

On 17 June, at the Permanent Council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in answer to Russia’s distorted narrative on the Second World War, Lithuania drew attention to the dangers of using historical revisionism as a tool of state policy.

In order to support the efforts of the United Nations (UN) in the field of human rights, Lithuania has allocated 15 thousand euros to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU).

Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic States: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden at the UNGA debate on the “Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia”.

On 14 June, the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Arnoldas Pranckevičius attended the informal video conference of development ministers, which EU Development Ministers informally exchanged views on middle-income countries (MICs)- development in transition, and human development.

On 14 June, the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Mantas Adomėnas met with the U.S. Department of State’s Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Cherrie Daniels and Paul Packer, Chairman of the United States Commission For the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad.

On 11 June, the Permanent Representative of Lithuania Ambassador Andrius Krivas handed over, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Diplomacy Star award to the Austrian Permanent Representative in Geneva Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger.

By Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania

When a plane from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in Minsk with threats of explosion and the scrambling of a military fighter jet, this was met with an uproar of shock and anger from the European capitals.

It seemed, at the time, like the vindication of Jean Monnet's famous words, "Europe will be forged in crises".

Speedily and unanimously, Europe decided on crisis response and on the sanctions vis-à-vis president Alexander Lukashenko's regime that keeps Belarusian people captive. Europe was magnificent.

There is a danger of complacency creeping in, however, as we congratulate ourselves for our fine performance. Let's take a step back and take stock of the larger perspective – what is happening here, precisely?

On June 8, Lithuania, together with the co-chairs of the United Nations Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists, France and Greece, and members of the Group released a Joint Statement on the detention by the Belarusian authorities of journalist Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega.


Letter to the President of the Republic of Lithuania

On behalf of Human Rights Watch, I urge you to exercise your authority to veto the ‘Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information,' passed by the Seimas on June 16, 2009.

The law would ban materials that "agitate for homosexual, bisexual and polygamous relations" from schools or public places where they could be seen by youth, on the grounds that they would have a "detrimental effect on the development of minors."

The law would violate the freedom of expression protected by international treaties to which Lithuania is a party. It would violate the right to equality by creating an unacceptable environment of state-promoted discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, including youth. It would endanger the rights of human rights defenders to promote rights protections and to engage in free discussion about rights principles. It would threaten the health and well-being of Lithuanian youth by restricting their access to information necessary for them to make critical decisions about their lives, and could potentially have life-threatening effects by censoring accurate information about HIV and AIDS.

Lithuania is member of the European Union. Article 6.1 of the Treaty of the European Union provides that "The Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to the member States."

Further, in 1995 Lithuania ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Article 10 of the Convention states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. "

In its article 14, the Convention also prohibits discrimination in the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in the Convention.

The European Court of Human Rights, which authoritatively interprets and enforces the Convention, has recognized in the 2003 case of Karner v. Austria that sexual orientation is covered by article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (as well as the explanatory memorandum of Protocol No.12) .

In the 2007 case of Baczkowski and others v. Poland- the European Court, referring to the importance of pluralism in a democratic society, stressed the State's positive obligation to secure the effective enjoyment of freedoms of assembly and association. In finding against Polish authorities' efforts to ban LGBT people's peaceful public demonstrations, the Court observed that "this obligation is of particular importance for persons holding unpopular views or belonging to minorities, because they are more vulnerable to victimization" (para.64).

These obligations bind Lithuania to respect, protect, and promote the freedom of expression for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The proposed law also contradicts Lithuania's public commitments undertaken in signing a joint statement on human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity, presented by 66 States at the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 18, 2008.

Inter alia, the statement reads:

10. We call upon all States and relevant international human rights mechanisms to commit to promote and protect the human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

13. We urge States to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity.

If you decide to sign this law, Lithuania would become a state implementing such discriminatory and stigmatizing legislation despite being a member of the European Union. Youth will not have access to information they need to protect their health.. Human rights defenders working on sensitive issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity will be prevented from publicly addressing these topics.

I urge you to protect the human rights of all persons in Lithuania, including those of minors, and uphold the right to freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive and impart information without discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity. I urge you to veto the law.

Boris Dittrich
Advocacy Director
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program
Human Rights Watch


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The Court held that there was no violation of Article 3 of the ECHR. According to the Court, the “understandable distress and frustration” experienced by L. did not amount to circumstances of such intensity such that they fell within the scope of Article 3.

The Court found it more appropriate to assess Article 8 (respect for private life) of the ECHR. The Court found that the legislative gap had left the applicant in a situation of distressing uncertainty with regard to his private life and the recognition of his true identity. According to the Court, budgetary restraints could not justify the legislature’s delay of over four years and the Court had, consequently, failed to strike a fair balance between the public interest and the individual applicant.

The Court felt that the issues assessed under Article 8 relieved them of the need to assess Article 12 and 14 of the ECHR. The Court ordered the Lithuanian legislature to adopt the implementation legislation within three months of its judgment.

"59. The Court finds that the circumstances of the case reveal a limited legislative gap in gender-reassignment surgery which leaves the applicant in a situation of distressing uncertainty vis-à-vis his private life and the recognition of his true identity. Whilst budgetary restraints in the public health service might have justified some initial delays in implementing the rights of transsexuals under the Civil Code, over four years have elapsed since the pertinent provisions came into force and the necessary legislation, although drafted, has yet to be adopted (paragraph 30 above). Given the few individuals involved (some 50 people, according to unofficial estimates paragraph 22 above), the budgetary burden on the State would not be expected to be unduly heavy. Consequently, the Court considers that a fair balance has not been struck between the public interest and the rights of the applicant." Page 12.


Lithuania Human Rights - History

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania

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On 21 June, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis discussed the issue of illegal migration to Lithuania with his EU counterparts at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg. In the bilateral meeting, Landsbergis also discussed the situation along the Lithuanian state border with the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein.

On 21 June, the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg focused on the EU's response to repression and systematic human rights violations by the Belarusian regime. Prior to the meeting, Foreign Ministers had an informal breakfast meeting with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, representative of the Belarusian pro-democratic forces, who came to Luxembourg at the invitation of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borell. In the meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis voiced his strong support to the people of Belarus, who were struggling for democratic change in the country. According to Lithuania's Foreign Minister, Belarusians must know that they will not be left to fight the regime on their own. The EU is ready to provide serious economic support for the democratic transformation of Belarus.

On 20 June, snap parliamentary elections were held in Armenia. We congratulate the citizens of Armenia, who have exercised their right to vote and actively participated in the parliamentary elections.

Lithuania regrets Russia's decision to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies in December this year, calls on the country to reconsider this action and to return to the full compliance with the Treaty.

On 17-18 June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs holds the informal Midsummer Snow Meeting, which will bring Lithuanian and foreign security experts together to discuss challenges posed to the transatlantic community and responses to them.

On 16 June in Brussels, the Coreper approved a new package of sanctions against the physical persons and legal entities (78 individuals and 7 companies), who are responsible for systematic human rights violations and repression in Belarus, as well as involved in the forced landing of a Ryanair aircraft in Minsk and the detention of Raman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega.

On 16 June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania summoned a representative of the Russian Embassy in order to express its protest over a violation of the airspace.

On 19 June, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Arnoldas Pranckevičius addressed the inaugural Plenary meeting of the Conference on the Future of Europe held in Strasbourg.

On 17 June, at the Permanent Council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in answer to Russia’s distorted narrative on the Second World War, Lithuania drew attention to the dangers of using historical revisionism as a tool of state policy.

In order to support the efforts of the United Nations (UN) in the field of human rights, Lithuania has allocated 15 thousand euros to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU).

Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic States: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden at the UNGA debate on the “Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia”.

On 14 June, the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Arnoldas Pranckevičius attended the informal video conference of development ministers, which EU Development Ministers informally exchanged views on middle-income countries (MICs)- development in transition, and human development.

On 14 June, the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Mantas Adomėnas met with the U.S. Department of State’s Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Cherrie Daniels and Paul Packer, Chairman of the United States Commission For the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad.

On 11 June, the Permanent Representative of Lithuania Ambassador Andrius Krivas handed over, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Diplomacy Star award to the Austrian Permanent Representative in Geneva Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger.

By Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania

When a plane from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in Minsk with threats of explosion and the scrambling of a military fighter jet, this was met with an uproar of shock and anger from the European capitals.

It seemed, at the time, like the vindication of Jean Monnet's famous words, "Europe will be forged in crises".

Speedily and unanimously, Europe decided on crisis response and on the sanctions vis-à-vis president Alexander Lukashenko's regime that keeps Belarusian people captive. Europe was magnificent.

There is a danger of complacency creeping in, however, as we congratulate ourselves for our fine performance. Let's take a step back and take stock of the larger perspective – what is happening here, precisely?

On June 8, Lithuania, together with the co-chairs of the United Nations Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists, France and Greece, and members of the Group released a Joint Statement on the detention by the Belarusian authorities of journalist Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega.


Children of Lithuania

Since its independence, one of Lithuania’s main priorities has been the protection of children. Consequently, today’s situation is good, in general, even if certain rights are only partially guaranteed.

Realization of Children’s Rights Index : 8.57 / 10
Yellow level : Satisfactory situation

Population: 3.5 million
Pop. ages 0-14: 14.2 %

Life expectancy: 72,1 years
Under-5 mortality rate: 3 ‰

Main problems faced by children in Lithuania :

According to the figures, poverty is not a major problem in Lithuania. However, the lowest social class must make numerous compromises in order to maintain rather high standards of living. And consequently, the situation of some children is largely affected by these compromises.

A child’s right to live in a healthy and stable family environment is therefore somewhat neglected : both parents continue to work hard and are left with little time to devote to their children. The number of women who have children under the age of 6 and need to work is much higher than the European average.

Yet, Lithuanian children face problems stemming from poverty : in 2008, the child poverty rate rose to 22.8%, and was even higher in single parent families as well as in large families. In Lithuania, an increased aid for these families is not a priority. Therefore, when Lithuania experiences financial difficulties, allocated support to families, such as family allowances, are reduced : for example in 2010, family allowances were decreased by 10% because of the financial crisis.

The large financial burden of child maintenance in Lithuania is discouraging for many women, so much so that the country’s birth rate is very low (on average 1.47 children per woman).

With around 8% of children unschooled, children’s right to education is not fully guaranteed in Lithuania. This problem is especially affecting young girls.

However, it must be noted that Lithuania has made much progress in education since its independence. In fact, the Baltic countries have put education at the top of their list of reforms and efforts for progress. The results of this policy can be felt through substantial and well-publicized improvements in children’s access to education.

Children should be protected, both inside and outside of the family environment. In Lithuania, children’s right to protection is scoffed at because of the lack of prevention and knowledge about children’s emergency and rescue procedures.

Also, Lithuania has a relatively high injury death rate (burns, poisonings, drownings, driving accidents etc.) The country therefore has to make progress in prevention and child safety in order to completely ensure a child’s right to protection.

The acceptance and integration of disabled children has been difficult in countries of the former Soviet Union. Still today, handicapped children in Lithuania do not have all of the assistance that they require.

Drop-in centers, in particular for young people suffering from mental disorders, are outdated. There is a lack of qualified personnel and the buildings are very old.

In addition, handicapped people are not considered for what they are, and instead they are considered as a source of difficulty to their families. As such, Lithuanian legislation does not make any provisions for the social integration of these people and they are doomed to remain isolated and invisible in the eyes of society. The mentality of the Lithuanian people must change in this area and they must accept that handicapped people have an integral role in society and as such, have a right to play a role in it.

The countries of Eastern Europe are unfortunately known for easy access to prostitution. Even though there is firm and strict legislation in place, Lithuania remains a hot spot for sex tourism.

Many children are employed in these networks and as a result, in Lithuania, more than 20% of prostitutes are minors, some only 11 years old. Other children have even been exploited in the making of pornographic movies.

Environment

With 4.2 tons of CO2 emissions per capita per year, Lithuania still needs to make progress to protect the environment and reduce its carbon footprint. This too has a harmful impact on the lives and future prospects of children. Their right to live and grow up in a healthy environment is not well respected.


Watch the video: History of Lithuania


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