Zpět Council of Europe anti-torture Committee (CPT) publishes report on its 2021 visit to Lithuania

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its December 2021 periodic visit to Lithuania, together with the response of the Lithuanian authorities.
Council of Europe anti-torture Committee (CPT) publishes report on its 2021 visit to Lithuania

During the visit, the delegation examined the treatment and conditions of detention of persons held in police and prison establishments as well as the situation of persons in foreigners’ registration centres. The delegation also reviewed the use of means of restraints and legal safeguards offered to involuntary patients in the context of civil psychiatry.

The CPT delegation had heard no allegations of ill-treatment of persons detained by the police; on the contrary, most of the persons interviewed, who were or had recently been in police custody, stated that the police had treated them in a correct manner, both upon apprehension, during subsequent questioning and in the course of police custody.

The Committee noted that most detained persons met by the delegation confirmed that they had been able to exercise the right of notification of custody. Regarding access to a lawyer, it was still highly exceptional for persons in police custody to benefit from access to a lawyer as from the very outset of deprivation of liberty (that is, from the moment when they were obliged to remain with the police).

Material conditions of detention at the local police headquarters visited were satisfactory, and at the arrest houses in Vilnius and Kaunas they were very good, for the maximum period of police custody, namely, 48 hours.

The Committee noted that much-anticipated plans to construct several new prisons have so far not been implemented and called upon the Lithuanian authorities to take all possible measures to significantly speed up the process of modernising the prison estate and especially its conversion to cell-type accommodation.

In Marijampolė and Pravieniškės Prisons, the delegation received hardly any allegations of physical ill-treatment of prisoners by staff. However, the situation was very different and concerning in Alytus Prison and, seemingly, had not changed much since the last CPT visit in 2018.  Here, a number of credible allegations were received, including punching, kicking, hitting with truncheons.

The Committee is equally highly concerned to note that no significant progress has been made in reducing the scale of inter-prisoner violence, which has been repeatedly criticised by the CPT during its previous visits. During the 2021 visit, the CPT delegation once again received many credible allegations of inter-prisoner violence, including beatings and violence of a sexual nature, as well as extortion, psychological pressure, and coercion to commit new crimes. 

The roots of inter-prisoner violence appear to have remained the same, namely – the informal prisoner hierarchy (the “caste” system), the omnipresence of illegal drugs, and a lack of adequate custodial staff presence in prisoner accommodation areas (coupled with an infrastructure composed mainly of large-capacity dormitories).

Based on the findings of the 2021 visit, the Committee concluded that efforts to address these deeply rooted problems have, so far, been ineffective and the situation remained unacceptable. For this reason, the CPT has decided to set in motion the procedure provided for in Article 10, paragraph 2, of the Convention.[1]

Although access to primary healthcare in the prisons visited was generally ensured, the healthcare teams remained under-resourced. Access to specialist care was a matter of a serious concern, mainly due to significantly reduced operational capacity at the Prison Hospital.

As regards the detention of foreign nationals, the delegation did not receive any allegations of physical ill-treatment which would have occurred in the three visited foreigner registration centres.

The Committee recognised the urgency with which the Lithuanian authorities have had to respond to unprecedented circumstances and recommended to continue the efforts to improve living conditions and the regime afforded to immigration detainees.

The Committee also recommended that detained foreign nationals be better informed about the legal framework applicable to them and that steps be taken to improve their access to translation, legal assistance, and avenues for complaints.

Regarding the use of means of restraint in Vilnius Republican Psychiatric Hospital, the CPT noted improvements both in the regulatory framework and in practice. Remaining shortcomings include inter alia lack of monitoring of the use of mechanical restraint and the absence of systematic debriefings with the patients after such measures are imposed.

In their response, the Lithuanian authorities set out the measures taken or envisaged to implement the recommendations made by the Committee in the report, including further modernisation of the prison estate, latest amendments to the Code of Execution of Sentences, integration of violence prevention measures in prisons, etc. The authorities also informed the Committee that Foreigners’ Registration Centre in Medininkai had been closed and the one in Kybartai would be closed during the 2023.

The CPT report and the response of the Lithuanian authorities have been made public at the request of the Lithuanian Government.


Read the report (in English only)

Read the executive summary (in English only)

Read the response and the addendum (English only)

The CPT and Lithuania

[1]              “If the Party fails to co-operate or refuses to improve the situation in the light of the Committee's recommendations, the Committee may decide, after the Party has had an opportunity to make known its views, by a majority of two-thirds of its members to make a public statement on the matter.”

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