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HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE CONSIDERS THE REPORT OF LITHUANIA

11 July 2018

The Human Rights Committee this morning concluded its review of the fourth periodic report of Lithuania on its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 

Presenting the report, Neris Germanas, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said that during the reporting period, Lithuania had assumed a number of important international obligations through the signing of several conventions.  In addition, the Seimas Ombudsman Office had received accreditation as the national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles, and the authorities had established the Department of National Minorities on 1 July 2015.  Revised provisions of the Labour Code, the Law on Employment, and the Law on Education foresaw measures aimed at prohibiting all types of harassment, and promoting equal opportunities in employment, education and other sectors.  The Government noted difficulties in the areas of domestic violence, especially gender-based violence, rights and freedoms of the Roma, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, protection of victims of human trafficking, shortcomings in the penal system, and measures to combat discrimination.

In the ensuing discussion, the Committee Experts commended the accreditation of the Ombudsperson’s Office as the national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles.  However, they raised concern about the persistence of hate crimes, hate speech, and xenophobia against persons belonging to vulnerable and minority groups, including the Roma, Jews, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  The Experts further inquired about the pay gap between women and men, sexual harassment at the workplace, domestic violence, the situation of the Roma community, cooperation with civil society, the use of lists of persons who represented a national security threat, voluntary termination of pregnancy, marital rape, early marriage among the Roma, recognition of same-sex relationships, linguistic identity of national minorities, accountability for human rights abuses in CIA secret detention programmes, the use of force by correctional staff, alternatives to imprisonment and to pre-trial detention, ill-treatment of children and corporal punishment, legal representation of individuals deprived of their legal capacity, collection of personal data, detention conditions for migrants and asylum seekers, and conscientious objection to military service. 
 
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Germanas thanked all the Committee Experts for their important and detailed questions, which highlighted pertinent issues that the Lithuanian Government and society were considering.  Those and many more issues required the Government’s attention in order to fully implement the Covenant. 

Yuval Shany, Committee Chairperson, said that the dialogue was informative, frank and self-critical.  The overall impression was that Lithuania took its obligations under the Covenant seriously and that it was a country that respected rights.  There was progress in many areas, but the pace of progress was less desirable. 

The delegation of Lithuania consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, and the Permanent Mission of Lithuania to the United Nations Office at Geneva.


The Committee will next meet in public this afternoon at 3 p.m. to consider the initial report of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (CCPR/C/LAO/1).


Report

The Committee has before it the fourth periodic report of Lithuania (CCPR/C/LTU/4).

Presentation of the Report

NERIS GERMANAS, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, reiterated Lithuania’s commitment to uphold its national and international human rights obligations.  One of the ways to achieve human rights protection was by implementing international standards and strengthening Lithuania’s engagement with international human rights bodies.  During the reporting period, Lithuania had assumed a number of important international obligations.  It had ratified the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and signed the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, and the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention). 

Mr. Germanas said that the Seimas Ombudsman Office had been accredited as the national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles.  The Seimas Ombudsman Office had already assumed a wide range of new competencies, which included broader monitoring functions, and the presentation of reports to international organizations and inquiry procedures.  Moreover, Lithuania had established the Department of National Minorities on 1 July 2015 since the previous institution had proven inefficient.  The department was mandated to streamline the implementation of national minorities’ policies, further develop the Government’s engagement with the Roma, and to be closely involved in discussions on the draft Law on National Minorities.  Lithuania had also taken additional efforts to ensure the principles of non-discrimination and equal opportunity.  The revised provisions of the Labour Code, the Law on Employment, and the Law on Education foresaw measures aimed at prohibiting all types of harassment, and promoting equal opportunities in employment, education and other sectors.

In order to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the authorities had recently adopted legal amendments to centralize and modernize the child protection system.  Moreover, an inter-institutional cooperation agreement had been signed to allow for prompt and professional responses to threats against children, and a support centre for child victims of sexual abuse had been opened.  The Government had increased its attention to issues related to trafficking in human beings, and it had made significant changes in addressing domestic violence.  Lithuania had made many improvements in detention policies, such as the adoption of a new and more effective probation system.  The authorities had abolished prolonged administrative detention and administrative arrest.  The Government had noted difficulties in the areas of domestic violence, especially gender-based violence, rights and freedoms of the Roma, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, protection of victims of human trafficking, shortcomings in the penal system, and measures to combat discrimination.  Accordingly, much work needed to be done with respect to inter-institutional cooperation, engagement with civil society, allocation of additional resources, capacity-building, and prevention of offences, Mr. Germanas concluded.

Questions by Committee Experts

An Expert commended the accreditation of the Ombudsperson’s Office as the national human rights institution.  She inquired about the status of the Covenant in the domestic legal framework, and about measures to implement the Committee’s recommendations

Experts noted Lithuania’s failure to provide concrete information that the national legislation was not interpreted and applied in a way that discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and its failure to provide any information about human rights abuses in the context of counter-terrorism operations.

Turning to follow-up on views, Experts were very concerned about the failure to implement the Committee’s views from 2014 in Paksas v. Lithuania, in which the Committee had requested the revision of the lifelong prohibition of President Paksas’ right to be to be a presidential, prime ministerial or ministerial candidate.  Could the State party clarify the relationship between rights under the Covenant and the Constitution of Lithuania?  Were constitutional provisions interpreted in light of Covenant rights, and if so, why had the problem in President Paksas’ case not been resolved through constitutional interpretation?

Experts further raised questions about the persistence of hate crimes, hate speech, and xenophobia, including on the Internet, against persons belonging to vulnerable and minority groups, including the Roma, Jews, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  Did the State party gather statistics on hate crimes specific to vulnerable populations by ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and other basis of discrimination?  What measures was it taking to address social intolerance towards specific groups, including the Roma, Muslims, migrants, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons? 

What was the composition of the Seimas Obudsman’s Office and what were its concrete competences?  How were its independence and pluralism guaranteed?  What was the relationship between the Seimas and the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman?  What were the new functions of the Seimas Ombudsman’s Office? 

Was there any cooperation in public awareness initiatives with civil society?  How had the Committee’s previous recommendations been disseminated?  What kind of training for judges and prosecutors was provided? 

Addressing the pay gap between women and men, an Expert reminded that employers were required to provide equal pay for equal work, equal working conditions, and equal benefits for women and men.   In many cases, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman only issued warnings, whereas the labour inspectorate was reluctant to define complaints as labour infringements.  What were the concrete results of the National Programme for Equal Opportunities?   

An Expert commended the passing of two laws on the transposition of European Union directives.  How many cases of discrimination had been reported and prosecuted?  What concrete results had been achieved in terms of combatting discrimination?  Had there been any concrete measures to promote women at work?

Experts further inquired about the implementation of the Law for Protection against Domestic Violence, about the new action plan to combat violence against women, and shelters.

One Expert asked for clarification on how criminality liability was applied in the case of sexual harassment.  How was the issue of sexual harassment dealt with?  What was the State party doing to raise awareness about sexual harassment?

Experts also asked about the implementation of the National Action Plan for Roma Integration (2012 – 2014), reminding that the Roma continued to suffer from discrimination, poverty, low educational attainment, large-scale unemployment, and inadequate standards of living.  Compulsory health insurance seemed not to cover most of the Roma population.  Turning to criminal liability for discrimination against the Roma, Experts reminded that only one case of discrimination against the Roma community had been the subject of pre-trial investigation. 

On discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, Experts noted that Lithuania ranked very low among European countries in terms of the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  It had been characterized as one of the most socially hostile countries in that respect.  The Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson was not perceived as an effective remedy to address instances of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Did the Government have any plans to amend the Law on the Protection of Minors to ensure non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation? 

The Committee had information that the Inspector of Journalist Ethics restricted freedom of expression related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons by, for example, limiting when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex content could be broadcast, and by issuing recommendations that could result in a chilling effect on the dissemination of such content in the media. 

It appeared that transgender persons, who were not able to receive necessary medical services under the public healthcare system, were forced to seek those services from private providers or abroad.  The recent amendment to the Civil Code aimed to completely prohibit both legal and medical gender reassignment.  Was gender reassignment surgery required in order for individuals to legally change their gender on personal identity documents?  What steps had been taken to legally recognize the gender of transgender individuals regardless of whether or not they had undergone gender reassignment surgery? 

How did the State party address hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons?  Were hate-motivated crimes against them punishable offences?

YUVAL SHANY, Committee Chairperson, inquired about balancing freedom of expression and sentiments of the Russian-speaking minority in the context of national security policies.

Replies by the Delegation

NERIS GERMANAS, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, noted that the authorities were trying to do their best to promote and protect all human rights.  Much progress could be observed in many areas, even though challenges remained. 

The delegation explained that the Seimas Ombudsman Office was mandated to fight against the abuse of power, to examine complaints, and to promote and facilitate human rights.  The Office consisted of a board of two Ombudspersons.  It enjoyed A status under the Paris Principles.

Turning to hate crimes, the delegation said that the Prosecutor General’s Office had initiated 9 pre-trial investigations since the beginning of the year.  There was a decrease in the number of hate crimes.  Proposed legal amendments were aimed at bringing more objectivity when prosecutors wanted to determine whether the content published online could be classified as incitement to hatred.

As for gender equality at the workplace, the Labour Code stipulated that women and men had to paid equal wage for equal work.  Between 2015 and 2017, the Labour Inspectorate had performed numerous verifications of the implementation of that legal provision.  In 2017, most of the complaints were related to gender-based discrimination, whereas the rest related to age and consumer rights.  Sexual harassment was punishable in all settings, including in the workplace.

The Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman organized various training sessions for police officers on hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, as well as awareness raising campaigns for businesses and the general public.  The goal was to increase the public acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and to change negative social attitudes. 

Since spring 2017, it was no longer necessary to undergo a gender reassignment surgery in order to obtain the desired personal identity documentation.  New legal acts would be prepared to deal with the issue of legal recognition of the gender identity of transgender persons.  A conference was planned for September 2018 to prepare the ground for new legal acts in view of the polarization of attitudes towards that issue in the Lithuanian society.  Medical treatment of transgender persons would be in line with the revised guidelines of the World Health Organization.  There was some political support for the medical treatment of persons seeking gender reassignment. 

The Inspector of Journalist Ethics applied the Law on the Protection of Minors in line with the principles of proportionality and necessity.  There had been only two occasions when the provisions of the law had been applied. 

The national action plan to combat domestic violence 2017-2020 was in the process of implementation.  A special programme on awareness raising for the period between 2018 and 2019 was also planned, using European Union structural funds.  As for shelters, those provided long-term living possibilities.  Smaller municipalities had crisis centres, which focused on providing short-term assistance.  Many crisis centres had been established with European Union funds and, thus, operated in line with European Union standards. 

On the situation of the Roma community, the delegation clarified that it was the task and duty of the whole society to be tolerant and inclusive.  The authorities were trying to come up with activities that helped to promote those values, such as working with journalists that promoted minority issues, and commemorating the National Community Day on 22 May when each community had an opportunity to present their culture.  The Department of National Minorities had developed 26 indicators about the Roma community, which it monitored regularly.  The Roma community mostly lived in the capital city of Vilnius, where they faced restrictions related to housing.  Since more than 20 per cent of the Roma were young people, the authorities had focused on educational activities for them.  Every Roma family had a social worker to advise them on taxes and the labour market.
 
Generally, cooperation with civil society was encouraged in a legislative process.  Different ministries led and coordinated reporting to the United Nations human rights bodies, and held annual meetings with non-governmental organizations regarding the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations.  Representatives of national human rights institutions were also invited to take part in those meetings.  In addition, ministries were encouraged to hold further specialized meetings with civil society on different topics. 

NERIS GERMANAS, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said there were no minorities, including the Russian minority, that presented a threat to national security.

Follow-up Questions by Experts

An Expert reiterated her question about the implementation of the Committee’s follow-up to views.  As for hate crimes, she welcomed information on the penalties imposed and on aggravating circumstances on the grounds of sexual orientation.  What was the legal standard applied to hate speech?

Turning to national security threats, Experts raised concern that the list of persons presenting a threat to national security was used to quell statements on the Lithuanian complicity in Nazi crimes during the Second World War as a “distortion of historical facts about the nation.”

What was the status of proposed legislation to restrict access to voluntary termination of pregnancy?  On domestic violence, there was information on limited enforcement of protective orders.  Were there any plans to explicitly criminalize marital rape

Speaking of the 26 indicators on the Roma community, Experts asked that a relevant table be provided to the Committee.  Were there any statistics on early marriage among the Roma and any attempts to raise awareness about that practice among the Roma?

Experts further asked about the application of the Labour Law with respect to sexual harassment at the workplace.  Did the provision on equal pay for equal work apply both in the private and public sector?

Had there been any legal action to recognize same-sex relationships?  What was the status of legislation to restrict criticism of the Lithuanian nation? 

What efforts were being taken to provide persons with disabilities with access to public buildings and transportation, and with sexual and reproductive health services?

Experts inquired about the protection and preservation of the linguistic identity of national minorities.  Civil society had complained about the discrimination against Polish and Russian minorities.  The legal requirement of the exclusive use of the Lithuanian language in all public communications and settings could have negative consequences for the preservation of minority languages.

Replies of the Delegation

The delegation said that the implementation of the Committee’s views and recommendations was not legally defined as a specific process.  Views and recommendations were distributed to various ministries for further action.  The legal status of the Committee’s views and recommendations was comparable to the opinions of the European Court of Human Rights.  Views could serve as a ground for the re-opening of legal cases.

There was no official information about early marriage among the Roma community.  In Lithuania, the Roma community considered early marriages as part of their traditions.  The authorities organized activities on empowerment of women, and worked with teachers in schools to combat that phenomenon.  All action plans were prepared together with representatives of the Roma.

There was no legal gap in the protection of national minorities.  In regions and municipalities where minorities lived, minority languages were used in public.  The number of schools teaching in Polish had not decreased since the early 1990s.  There were more Polish-language schools in Lithuania than in any other country, except Poland. 

The number of cases of domestic violence sent to courts for trial was growing.  There were specialized prosecutors who worked on such cases, and many training courses were available.  Marital rape was punishable as any other type of rape.

There was no statistical data on aggravating circumstances for hate crimes.  Hate speech was defined as such when it incited to hatred on the grounds of ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.

Parliamentarians had the full right to propose amendments or laws related to their political affiliations or views.  None of the amendments on the voluntary termination of pregnancy had been adopted.

The regulations on equal pay for women and men were applicable both in the private and public sector.  Training sessions were organized together with social partners and civil society on how to reduce the gender pay gap.

NERIS GERMANAS, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said that the Holocaust was a very painful question for every nation.  There were historians who had different views about Lithuania’s history during the Second World War, and Lithuania was ready to have an open discussion about that issue.

Answering the question about pending legislation in Parliament, the delegation said that many of them had been postponed or rejected, such as amendments concerning family values, recognizing same-sex partnerships, and on banning the sex reassignment surgery.  As for the bill that would forbid abortion in some cases, the Government and its Law Commission had rejected that proposal.

Second Round of Questions by Experts

Experts raised the issue of accountability for human rights abuses in CIA secret detention programmes, and the case of Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania.  What measures had the State party taken to implement the relevant decision of the European Court of Human Rights regarding that case, with an aim of bringing those responsible to justice?  How had the State party communicated its international legal obligations to public servants?  What measures had been taken to re-activate the case of Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawasawi? 

Turning to the use of force by correctional staff, Experts reminded that only five official investigations of physical violence or verbal abuse in prisons had been launched.  What improvements had been made to ensure that the complaint mechanisms led to appropriate sanctions?  How was the independence of investigations from the correctional facility guaranteed?  Had the State party considered expanding training to healthcare employees to allow healthcare specialists to contribute to the prevention of ill-treatment of incarcerated persons?  When did excessive use of force fall under the definition of “abuse of official position” and how often had the courts applied that definition?

On alternatives to imprisonment and to pre-trial detention, Experts acknowledged that the situation in Lithuania had improved and that there had been a paradigm shift, moving from the use of deprivation of liberty as a primary penalty to alternative sanctions.  What other concrete steps had been taken to apply alternatives to imprisonment?  Were there some correctional facilities that remained overcrowded despite the net decrease in prisoners?  Had the length of sentences increased thus contributing to the problem of overcrowding?  What progress had been made to improve prison conditions, prison closures, renovations, and the construction of new prisons?  Had the State party effectively addressed instances of inter-prisoner violence?  What was the proportion of cases when bail or other alternatives to pre-trial detention had been granted since 2010? 

As for the ill-treatment of children, an Expert commended the fact that corporal punishment of children in prison had been expressly banned, and that the recent legal changes better protected children from abuses.  He asked whether corporal punishment had been banned in all institutional settings.  What was the number of cases of trafficking of children for the purposes of slavery or sexual exploitation?  Had any sentences been handed down on the basis of recent changes to the Criminal Code? 

What were concrete ways in which effective legal representation of individuals deprived of their legal capacity was provided, particularly of persons with mental disabilities?  Experts further inquired about restrictions on the right to marry and to vote, involuntary hospitalization, the content of the new Mental Health Act, and possible inconsistencies with the Lithuanian legal framework.  What were the areas in which limitation of a person’s legal capacity could be applied?  Was State-guaranteed legal aid available to persons deprived of their legal capacity?

Which were the cases provided by the law that justified the collection of personal data by both the private and State sector?  Was there jurisprudence that offered guidance on that matter?  Who was in charge of the management of laws on the management of personal data?  What were the functions and operations of the State Data Protection Inspectorate?  What type of personal complaints was the Inspectorate competent to address? 

What was the status of the law on consumer protection, and of the bill that would restrict access to abortion by women in case of serious health risks and rape?

What were detention conditions for migrants and asylum seekers?  Was it true that detained migrants and asylum seekers were only allowed to spend one hour per day outside?  What measures were in place for migrants and asylum seekers to complain in detention?  Referring to the holding of asylum seekers at the border and the fact that alternatives to detention were rarely used, Experts inquired about the average length of detention for migrants.  How were migrants informed about the right to receive legal assistance?  What specific measures had the State party taken to sensitize the public and counter negative stereotypes about migrants?

What were the criteria for conscientious objection to military service?

Replies by the Delegation

Responding to the Experts’ questions about the accountability for human rights abuses in CIA secret detention programmes, the delegation explained that in 2014 the Prosecutor General’s Office had launched an investigation into potential transfer and detention of persons by the CIA on the territory of Lithuania.  The previous pre-trial investigation had lasted between 2010 and 2011, and the two investigations had been combined in 2015.  So far, no objective data could suggest that any crime had been committed.  The authorities had sent a request for legal assistance from the United States, whose reply had not been informative.  The delegation said that it could not provide more information about that case.

As for the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania, the delegation noted that public servants did not deny the binding nature of the judgment.  Once the judgement was finalized, the authorities would implement it. 

With respect to prison conditions, there was one prison in Vilnius that was notorious for its bad conditions and that dated back to the times of tsarist Russia.  The Government wanted to preserve the building as a cultural heritage, and to transfer prisoners to a new building. 

On the use of force in prisons, the delegation explained that prisoners had effective access to courts and faced no legal obstacles to include physical abuse by the prison staff in their complaints.  With respect to the use of alternative measures to detention, the Government had not managed to use release on parole more often than it wanted due to the restraints of public opinion.  In addition to release on parole, the authorities also used delayed sentencing.  Overall, the use of alternative measures to detention was increasing.  The application of pre-trial release on bail was still below one per cent, but it was growing.

Lithuania was moving in the direction of alternatives to pre-trial detention.  In 2016, there were 233 cases of release on parole, and in 2017 there were 272. 

In 2017 the Government had adopted an amendment to the Law on the Protection of the Child, which improved the protection of children from violence, abuse and neglect.  In 2016, the authorities had opened a support centre for child victims of sexual abuse, as well as guidelines for all those services working for the wellbeing of children.  Municipalities had also started establishing mobile groups to provide long-term integrated support to child victims. 

The adoption of the Law against Domestic Violence had made combatting domestic violence much more sustainable and systematic, the delegation noted.  Assistance to victims was provided by non-governmental organizations financed through the State budget.  The number of persons who had received assistance was growing. 

As for the legal representation of individuals deprived of their legal capacity, the delegation explained that the authorities had carried out a legal reform to reduce the number of situations in which persons could be completely deprived of their legal capacity.  Areas in which legal capacity could be limited included the right to marry, vote or make financial transactions.  It was up to courts to define those areas.  Legal aid was provided irrespective of income and assets of persons deprived of their legal capacity.  The rule that the revision of legal capacity would be conducted only once per year was meant as a measure of precaution.  The draft Mental Health Act would elaborate the procedure for imposing and extending involuntary hospitalization.

Turning to the integration of migrants, the delegation said that the relevant action plan envisaged various information awareness raising campaigns and discussions on inter-cultural dialogue.  Lithuania was previously never a destination country for refugees and asylum seekers.  But following its ratification of the International Convention on Refugees in 1997, the number of asylum applications had been increasing, amounting to 600 in 2017. 

The centre for foreigners was intended to accommodate those persons who had tried to cross the border illegally.  In 2015, Lithuania had fully implemented the common European asylum system.  Foreigners could be detained to prevent their arrival in the country without a permit, to prevent them from spreading dangerous diseases, to prevent them from using forged documents, and to prepare them for deportation.  Foreigners could be detained no longer than 48 hours.  Lithuania provided alternatives to detention without any restriction on movement.  In 2017, the country had begun to accommodate asylum seekers in alternative premises in municipalities. 

Due to the ageing of the population and the loss of the population due to migration, the authorities were developing plans to attract migrants and municipalities were competing to receive them.  In addition, as a member of the European Union, Lithuania was obliged to receive migrants.

The delegation said that Parliament had recently adopted new laws on data collection, whose provisions would be implemented by the State Data Protection Inspectorate.  The State Data Protection Inspectorate could ask the police for assistance and had been engaged in a broad public awareness raising campaign. 

According to the Law on Equal Opportunities between Women and Men, sexual harassment at the workplace was considered as unwanted sexual behaviour that sought to undermine human dignity.  Employers had to ensure that sexual harassment was prohibited at work, as well as apply equal recruitment opportunities for women and men. 

The draft Law on the Prohibition of Abortion had been rejected in Parliament on the grounds that it could constitute a violation of women’s rights.  Additional education would be more valuable in that respect.  The number of abortions requested by women had dropped more than 1.5 times recently.   
The conscript military service in Lithuania had not been enforced because all the places had been filled by volunteers.  If a person reached the age of 27 and the quota was fulfilled, he was no longer required to serve in the military.  Those citing conscientious objection to the military service had to provide official documents proving the grounds for their objection.  Only one request had been rejected because the person could not objectively prove his pacifism.  Persons serving alternative military service were provided with the same kind of allowance.  

The bill on consumer protection had been deemed contrary to the Constitution of Lithuania, whereas a new proposal had just been registered in Parliament.

Follow-up Questions by Experts

Experts asked for information about the duration of pre-trial detention of persons in 2017, and about the effects of the Code of Administrative Offences on eliminating administrative detention.  There was information that the right to be informed, to receive legal counsel and prepare defense, and to contact family was not provided for from the beginning of the legal process. 

Experts reiterated questions about the detention of asylum seekers at the border, the average duration of their detention, and their access to legal assistance.  Were unaccompanied migrant children detained?  Were they detained in alternative detention centres?

How did the State party define who represented a national security threat?  What was the purpose of the lists of persons representing a threat to national security?

Was the age of consent below 18 with respect to pregnancies still on the books?  Were baby boxes, which allowed people to abandon babies anonymously, in use?

Replies by the Delegation

Release on bail was only one of the alternative measures to detention; other measures included intensive supervision, home arrest, and withdrawal of identity documents.

Asylum seekers could be detained for more than 48 hours only by a court decision, and no longer than six months.  They had the right to request legal assistance.  Unaccompanied migrant children were accommodated in social care institutions and granted guardianship.

Baby boxes were still in use and since 2009, 12 girls and 10 boys had been found in Vilnius.

Concluding Remarks

NERIS GERMANAS, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, thanked all the Committee Experts for their important and detailed questions, which highlighted pertinent issues that the Lithuanian Government and society were considering.  The principle of non-discrimination in various areas, domestic violence, counter-terrorism measures, and cooperation with civil society were some of the issues highlighted by the Committee.  Those and many more issues required the Government’s attention in order to fully implement the Covenant. 

YUVAL SHANY, Committee Chairperson, said that the dialogue was informative, frank and self-critical.  The overall impression was that Lithuania took its obligations under the Covenant seriously and that it was a country that respected rights.  There was progress in many areas, but the pace of progress was less desirable.  Further work was necessary, inter alia, with respect to improving the conditions of detention in the migration context, fighting discrimination and hate speech vis-à-vis minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, legal capacity, and the use of force by correctional staff.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CCPR/18/19E