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Fourth report on Lithuania [en] - [fr]- [lit]

Press Release – 13.09.2011

Lithuanian version

Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Lithuania

Strasbourg, 13.09.2011 - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fourth report on Lithuania. ECRI’s Chair, Nils Muiznieks, said that, while there are positive developments, some issues of concern remain, such as the continuing absence of a law on national minorities and the situation of the Roma.

The Criminal Code was amended in 2009 to help combat racism more effectively. The Law on Equal Treatment now protects against discrimination also on grounds of national origin and language; the burden of proof is shared. Pedagogues have been hired in the Vilnius area to assist Roma children. It is no longer possible to detain asylum-seekers who have illegally entered Lithuania or overstayed. The State Border Guard Service cooperates with the UNHCR and the Red Cross Society to train border guards, have lawyers visit entry points and reception facilities and provide information on asylum.

However, many instances of discrimination and incitement to hatred still go unpunished. In practice, it is almost impossible for NGOs to represent victims of discrimination in court. Prominent political figures have made statements showing little sensitivity towards the need to fight racism and intolerance. There is little coordination between the different minority/anti-discrimination and Roma integration programmes. The latter have produced few tangible results. The newly established department of minorities is understaffed and its budget has been greatly reduced. Persons granted subsidiary protection do not have a right to social assistance, except during their one-year stay at the reception centre. Except for certain categories specified by law, they only benefit from emergency medical care.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, three of which require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

The report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Lithuania in November 2010 [Press Release – 30.11.2010] and takes account of developments up to 25 March 2011.

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language, as well as xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.

For more information on ECRI: www.coe.int/ecri

Press contact: Lubomir Majercik, Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 56 71, lubomir.majercik@coe.int