Antisemitism – Overview of data available in the EU 2009–2019 (excerpt), 2020

Lithuania

Official data

In 2019, the Lithuanian State Security Department (Valstybės saugumo
departamentas
) recorded five antisemitic incidents. In one case out of
these five it was possible to identify the perpetrators and initiate criminal
proceedings.

In contrast, the State Security Department recorded one antisemitic incident in 2018 (against an object related to the Jewish community). According to the data from the Prosecutor General’s Office, one pre-trial investigation was initiated in 2018 under Article 169 of the Criminal Code. This alleges discrimination of a person on the grounds of their Jewish ethnicity; it was discontinued in the absence of a criminal act.

In 2014–2017, three pre-trial investigations under Article 312(2) of the
Criminal Code were initiated. These concerned incidents where places of
public respect had been desecrated for antisemitic reasons. All of these
pre-trial investigations were discontinued because the offenders liable for
the criminal offence were not identified.63

63 UN CERD (2018), CERD/C/LTU/9-10, 23/5/2018, paras. 37–51.

The Lithuanian State Security Department recorded two antisemitic incidents in 2009 and one incident between January and July 2010.

The Prosecutor General’s Office reports on pre-trial investigations initiated
under Article 170 of the Criminal Code (incitement against any national, racial, religious or other group). In 2009, 20 % of pre-trial investigations under Article 170 involved an antisemitic motive, but the report does not provide the number of cases.64

64 Lithuania (2011), Collegiate Council of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania.

Unofficial data

No unofficial data were available at the time this report was compiled.


Document data: Published: 10.09.2020 Print ISBN 978-92-9474-993-2 Link: https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/fra-2020-antisemitism-overview-2009-2019_en.pdf

Fundamental Rights Report 2020 (excerpts), 2020

3. RACISM, XENOPHOBIA AND RELATED INTOLERANCE

[..]

3.1. RACISM REMAINS A PERSISTENT PROBLEM

[..]

3.1.1. EU action against antisemitism

[..]

FRA ACTIVITY

Providing evidence to support efforts to counter antisemitism

[..]

The second report is FRA’s annual overview of the most recent
official and unofficial figures on antisemitic incidents across the EU.
It highlights that EU Member States still collect insufficient official
data. For example, no official data on reported antisemitic incidents
in 2018 were available for six Member States.

For the first time, the report also includes information on using
the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism adopted
by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). By November 2019, 14 Member States had adopted or endorsed the definition: [..] Lithuania [..]

3.2. LEGAL AND POLICY INITIATIVES TO CURB HATE CRIME AND HATE SPEECH FALL SHORT

[..]

Besides gaps in legislation, lack of guidance for criminal justice personnel
makes it difficult to address hate crime effectively. In Lithuania, an analysis of 35 court cases from 2010–2018 on the application of criminal liability for hate crime and hate speech concluded that court practice is rather complicated without guidance on the pre-trial investigation of such crimes.39 [..]

39 Lithuania, Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos vidaus reikalų ministerija) (2019), Analysis of the cases of the application of criminal liability for hate crime and hate speech (Baudžiamosios atsakomybės už neapykantos nusikaltimus ir neapykantą kurstančias kalbas taikymo atvejų analizės ataskaita), pp. 31–34.

[..]

3.2.3. Encouraging hate crime reporting

[..]

[..] Research in Lithuania shows that victims do not believe that the offender will be punished.70 [..]

70 Lithuania, Labanauskas, L. (2019), The report of qualitative research on hate crime against vulnerable communities (Neapykantos nusikaltimų pažeidžiamų bendruomenių kokybinio tyrimo ataskaita), Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania (Vidaus reikalų ministerija), 5 January 2020, p. 78

[..]

4. ROMA EQUALITY AND INCLUSION

[..]

4.2. SEGREGATION REMAINS A CHALLENGE

4.2.1. Education

[..]

A range of measures and initiatives aiming to improve equitable participation continued in 2019. A number of countries updated the action plans for the implementation of their national Roma integration strategies (Croatia,27 Greece,28 Lithuania,29 and Slovakia30) [..]

29 Lithuania, Ministry of Culture (Kultūros ministerija) (2015), Approval of action plan for integration of Roma ethnic group to Lithuanian society 2015–2020 (Įsakymas dėl romų integracijos į Lietuvos visuomenę 2015–2020 metų veiksmų plano patvirtinimo), No. ĮV-48, 29 January 2015.

[..]

A number of countries faced challenges in providing adequate funding for
efforts to promote Roma inclusion in education. In Lithuania, the Action plan for integration of Roma into Lithuanian society 2015–2020 (Romų integracijos į Lietuvos visuomenę 2015–2020 metų veiksmų planas) set out 18 measures. There was only enough funding to implement five in 2019.41

41 Lithuania (2019), Communication of NFP-Lithuania with the Department of National Minorities under the Government of Lithuania (Tautinių mažumų departamentas prie LR Vyriausybės), 13 August 2019.

[..]

4.2.2. Housing

[..]

In Lithuania, Roma houses that had been built illegally in the Kirtimai Roma settlement in Vilnius were demolished.48 According to the local Roma Community Centre, there was no dialogue with those affected and they received no legal information.49 They also claimed that the Vilnius Division of the State Territorial Planning and Construction Inspectorate and the Ministry of the Environment did not provide alternative housing. The Human Rights Committee of the Lithuanian Parliament intervened as a result. Subsequently the government asked the Vilnius Inspectorate to continue implementing the municipal Roma integration programme after 2019.50

48 Lithuania, Human Rights Committee of Seimas (Seimo žmogaus teisių komitetas) (2019), ‘Press release of Human Rights Committee of Seimas: “Between heaven and earth – The settlement is being demolished, no places to live are available, no employment and rooms for business to rent”’ (Seimo ŽTK pranešimas: “Tarp dangaus ir žemės – taboras griaunamas,
kur gyventi nepasiūlo, įdarbinti nenori, patalpų veiklai nenuomoja“
), 29 March 2019.
49 Lithuania, Roma Community Centre (Romų visuomenės centras), communication of the Lithuanian Social Research Centre (LSTC) with the lawyer of the Roma Community Centre on 12 September 2019.
50 Office of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Vyriausybės kanceliarija) (2019), Protocol of the consultation meeting on Roma housing, No. LV-139, 23 April 2019.


Document data: 11.06.2020. ISBN 978-92-9474-895-9 Link: https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/fra-2020-fundamental-rights-report-2020_en.pdf

2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (excerpts), 2020

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

[..]

E. DENIAL OF FAIR PUBLIC TRIAL

[..]

PROPERTY RESTITUTION

The government has laws and mechanisms in place to address the issue of communal property restitution, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and advocacy groups reported that the government has made some progress on the resolution of Holocaust-era claims, including for foreign citizens. A philanthropic foundation created in 2011 to receive government compensation for Communist and Nazi seizures of Jewish community-owned property distributed funds to individuals and to Jewish educational, cultural, scientific, and religious projects. According to an agreement between the government and the Jewish community, the foundation was to disburse 36 million euros ($39.6 million) by 2023. In 2013 and 2014, the foundation distributed a one-time payment of 870,000 euros ($1.2 million in 2013-14 dollars) to individual survivors. The foundation’s board allocated the remaining funds to support Jewish educational, cultural, scientific, and religious projects. As in 2018 the foundation received 3.6 million euros ($4.0 million) for this purpose, which brought the total received as of January to 21.6 million euros ($23.8 million). Jewish and ethnic Polish communities continued to advocate for private property restitution because there has been no opportunity to submit individual claims since 2001, when the country’s existing restitution law stopped allowing citizens who resided in the country to apply for private property restitution. Despite changes to the citizenship law in 2011 that made it easier to reacquire the country’s citizenship, the government did not reopen the application period for these communities and others who had been excluded from filing claims based on citizenship.

[..]

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

[..]

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.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

ELECTIONS AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION

[..]

Participation of Women and Minorities: No laws limit the participation of women or members of minorities in the political process, and they did participate.

[..]

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

[..]

ANTI-SEMITISM

The Jewish community consisted of approximately 3,000 persons. There were reports of anti-Semitism on the internet and in public.

In March a local court dismissed a case against the government-funded Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of the Residents of Lithuania brought by an American citizen who lost relatives in Holocaust-era executions attributed to Jonas Noreika, a Soviet-era partisan and Nazi collaborator who signed documents establishing a Jewish ghetto in Siauliai during World War II. The American had sued the center for concluding that Noreika did not participate in the mass killing of Jews in Lithuania during World War II.

On July 27, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius removed the plaque honoring Noreika based on historical evidence that concluded Noreika was a Nazi collaborator. On July 30, President Gitanas Nauseda called for a moratorium on the removal of World War II-era monuments and proposed an initiative to provide municipalities with criteria to evaluate historic property.

On August 7, approximately 300 individuals gathered in central Vilnius to protest the city’s decision to rename Skirpa Alley, a street named after Kazys Skirpa, a known Lithuanian Nazi collaborator, military officer, and diplomat. Attendees also protested the removal of the Noreika plaque.

On September 5, the NGO Pro Patria reinstalled the Noreika plaque without permission from the Vilnius municipality. Mayor Simasius told the media that the municipality would not remove the plaque again. Foreign Minister Linas Antanas Linkevicius told media on September 6 that glorifying figures like Noreika would harm the country’s international image.

In the wake of the Noreika controversy, the Lithuanian Jewish Community (JCL) Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky reported to the media that the JCL had received threatening calls and letters, and, on August 6, she temporarily closed the local synagogue and the Jewish community’s headquarters. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis condemned all examples of ethnic hatred and called on law enforcement officers to guarantee the security for every citizen and every community living in the country; Kukliansky reopened the synagogue and community center shortly thereafter.

Media reported that on September 15 an unidentified person created a large swastika with soil near the JCL’s headquarters. The swastika appeared during the “Festival of the Nations,” an annual festival displaying the country’s national minority cultures. Prime Minister Skvernelis, in a press release, denounced it as an act of vandalism and warned that such activities tarnish the country’s image internationally. Foreign Minister Linkevicius condemned the act as “deplorable,” and called for the police to investigate. On September 16, police launched an investigation of the swastika.

President Nauseda’s address on September 24 during a state ceremony to honor families that helped save Jewish lives during the Holocaust condemned intolerance and public attempts to intimidate Jewish citizens.

In October, four anti-Semitic acts of vandalism took place around the country. On October 5, the media reported that an unknown person painted a swastika on a statue of Chaim Frenkel, a 19th century Jewish industrialist, in Siauliai. The Siauliai municipality removed the swastika. The following day, someone spray-painted a swastika on a street in Vilnius. On October 12, a group vandalized a mural representing Jewish cultural life in Vilnius with a swastika. A few days later, on October 16, the media reported that a swastika and a homemade bomb were left outside of a building in Vilnius. Police removed the alleged bomb and launched an investigation. The Vilnius municipality removed all of the swastikas.

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

[..]

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.

Representatives of the Polish minority, approximately 200,000 persons according to the 2011 census, continued to raise their concerns about restrictions on the use of Polish letters in official documents, particularly passports, and the lack of a law on protecting national minorities’ rights.

Roma, whose population the 2011 census reported as 2,115 persons (0.07 percent of the country’s total population), continued to experience discrimination. On July 22, an online gaming website, gangsteriai.lt, released a new game set in Kirtimai, a Romani settlement on the outskirts of Vilnius. The game allowed players to shoot at photos of actual Romani residents of Kirtimai. The General Prosecutor’s office began an investigation to determine if the game was an example of hate speech.

According to an April poll conducted by Baltijos Tyrimai, 63 percent of Lithuanians view Roma as undesirable neighbors, and 65 percent of Lithuanians would not rent an apartment to a Rom. Roma claimed employers were unwilling to hire them, citing as justification stereotypes of drug us often perpetuated by law enforcement officers.

The Ministry of Education reported that approximately 1,000 Romani children under the age of 20 lived in the country in 2017, and 431 Romani school-age children were enrolled in school. In June the Vilnius municipality ended the 2016-2019 Kirtimai Integration Plan and moved most families with five or more children to apartments in Vilnius. Roma remaining in Kirtimai lived in homes some of which lacked indoor plumbing, electricity, and drinkable water. The Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance reported on June 6 that it considered as “partially implemented” the recommendation in its report from 2016 that the Roma in Kirtimai be moved to proper housing.

[..]

Section 7. Worker Rights

[..]

D. DISCRIMINATION WITH RESPECT TO EMPLOYMENT AND OCCUPATION

[..]

NGOs reported that workers in the Romani, LGBTI, and HIV-positive communities faced social and employment discrimination (see section 6). Non-Lithuanian speakers and persons with disabilities faced discrimination in employment and workplace access.


Document data: 11.03.2014. Link: https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/lithuania/

ECSR conclusions on Lithuania under Articles 16, 17, 31 RESC (excerpts on Roma), 2020

Article 16 – Right of the family to social, legal and economic protection

[..]

Measures in favour of vulnerable families

In its previous conclusion (Conclusions 2015) the Committee asked what measures were taken to ensure the economic protection of Roma families. In this respect, the Committee takes note of activities implemented under the measures ’Integrated Services for Families’ and ’Social Integration of Roma’, financed from the ESF. It also notes that the Action Plan for the Integration of Roma for 2015-2020 also includes a measure on labour market integration with a view to avoiding social exclusion.

[..]

Article 17 – Right of children and young persons to social, legal and economic protection

Paragraph 1 – Assistance, education and training

The Committee takes note of the information contained in the report submitted by Lithuania.

The legal status of the child

The Committee notes that there have been no changes to the situation which it has previously found to be in conformity with the Charter (Conclusions 2015).

[..]

The Committee further asks what measure have been taken to facilitate birth registration, particularly for vulnerable groups, such as Roma, asylum seekers, children in an irregular situation.

[..]

Child poverty

[..]

The Committee asks the next report to provide information on the rates of child poverty as well as on the measures adopted to reduce child poverty, including non-monetary measures such as ensuring access to quality and affordable services in the areas of health, education, housing etc. Information should also be provided on measures focused on combatting discrimination against and promoting equal opportunities for, children from particularly vulnerable groups such as ethnic minorities, Roma children, children with disabilities, and children in care.

[..]

Paragraph 2 – Free primary and secondary education – regular attendance at school

[..]

Vulnerable groups

[..]

The Committee asks the next report to provide information on the measures adopted to ensure equal access to education for children from vulnerable groups such as Roma children, to prevent their early school leaving, to improve their educational outcomes and ensure that Roma children are not educated in segregated settings.

[..]

Article 31 – Right to housing

Paragraph 1 – Adequate housing

[..]

Measures in favour of vulnerable groups

The Committee previously concluded that the measures taken by public authorities to improve the substandard housing conditions of most Roma were insufficient and that the situation was therefore not in conformity with Article 31§1 of the Charter (Conclusions 2011, 2015).

According to the latest survey, in 2011 (out of the reference period), there were 2115 Roma living in Lithuania, of which almost one third lived in Vilnius, mostly in the Kirtimai settlement (some 400 persons). Between 45% and 49% of Roma were living in inadequate dwellings, lacking hot water, lavatories, bathrooms/showers and, for 17% of them, access to water supply. 52% of Roma furthermore lived in dwellings where the living space was smaller than average, between 1 and 19m2 per person. They were more often living in state or municipality-owned dwellings (14%, against a national average of 1.4%), as they were often victims of discrimination in access to rented private housing, 38% of Roma lived in social dwellings (against a national average of 1%). Their housing conditions were however different depending on the areas concerned.

The Committee notes from the report that an Action Plan for Roma Integration was adopted for 2015-2020, which involves the municipalities, Roma communities and the Roma Community Centre and is aimed at improving the housing conditions of Roma people, mainly through the provision of social housing, financed by the state, the municipalities and European Union funds. Within this Action Plan, the municipality of Vilnius adopted in 2016 a specific programme which aims at encouraging Roma families to leave the Kirtimai settlement by providing them with social housing or by subsidizing their rental costs in the private housing market. As a result of the programme, as of mid-2018 the number of Roma residents in the Kirtimai settlement (some 200 persons) had decreased by more than half compared to 2007.

The Committee takes stock of the progress made, but notes that the implementation of these measures is still under way (see also ECRI Conclusions on the implementation of the Recommendations in respect of Lithuania subject to interim follow-up, adopted in April 2019; Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Fourth Opinion on Lithuania, adopted in May 2018; European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination, Country report 2018). It asks the next report to provide updated information in this respect. Meanwhile, it reserves its position on this point.


Document data: Conclusions XXI-4 (2019) March 2020. Link: https://rm.coe.int/rapport-ltu-en/16809cfbca

Human Rights situation in certain countries (excerpts), 2020

Lithuania

[..]

In May 2019, the court sentenced the deputy of Klaipeda City Council Vyacheslav Titov representing the interests of Russian-speaking voters to pay a fine of 12,000 euros for statements in 2018 against glorification of one of the leaders of Forest Brothers Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, considering them “insult to his memory”, “incitement of discord” and “denial of Soviet occupation”.

[..]

In the beginning of 2019, Lithuanian writer Marius Ivaškevičius was publicly harassed as the organization of political prisoners and exiles of Lithuania publicly accused him of slandering Lithuanian Forest Brothers in his novel The Greens for mentioning their involvement in the massacres of Jews. Although the President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė publicly defended the author and the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania did not find any elements of a crime in his acts, he received death threats via the Internet.

[..]

Attempts continued to limit the right to freedom of expression of the Russian and Lithuanian Russian-speaking media. The Human Rights Committee expressed concern that the annual assessment of threats to national security of the Department of State Security includes publications of names of associations, news agencies, journalists, human rights defenders and others, without any criteria for such publication or its motivation. 284

284 Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee following the consideration of Lithuania’s 4th periodic report. July 2018. https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR%2fC%2fLTU%2fCO%2f4&Lang=ru

[..]

The resolution of issues related to the protection and promotion of the rights of national minorities in the country has long been characterized by a high degree of politicization.

Since the abolition of the 1989 Law on National Minorities in 2010, efforts to develop new comprehensive legislation to protect minorities (five draft laws were prepared) have unfortunately not been successful.

Problems have remained in the area of respect for the rights of Lithuania’s national minorities as a result of the official authorities’ policy aimed at their assimilation. That was clearly manifested in the school education reform. The Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities noted that the authorities’ efforts to mitigate its negative effects on students learning minority languages were insufficient.

The 2011 Law on Education introduced Lithuanian as the only language of instruction in all schools and unified the state language examination in grades 10 and 12. That created significant difficulties for children belonging to national minorities, and the eight-year transition period started in 2012. Lithuanian language teaching was 818 hours less for students from national minorities’ schools who passed the exam for the first time in 2013 than for their Lithuanian peers. At present, the gap in results is narrowing. However, there are still concerns in minority schools due to the end of the eight-year transition period.

According to the AC-FCNM, minority language schools report that they are not ready to adequately prepare their students to pass the unified state examination and make attempts to adapt the unified curriculum to the needs of children for whom Lithuanian is the second language. Consequently, the results of minority language school students in the final examinations were lower than average, which placed them at a clear disadvantage when obtaining budget places in higher education institutions.

The number of teaching hours of the Lithuanian language, as well as methodological guidelines and teaching materials, were not sufficiently adapted to the needs of children from families mainly speaking minority languages and coming to school with very little knowledge of Lithuanian. Many children entering primary school start learning Lithuanian almost as a foreign language and are overloaded by the requirements of the unified Lithuanian language curriculum.

In the current education system, students’ knowledge of minority languages is not taken into account in the final examinations. Only the results of Lithuanian, mathematics and one foreign language examinations (usually English) are taken into account in this final grade, while Polish or Russian can be taken only as an optional examination.

The situation with Lithuanian language teaching and taking the state language exam remains difficult in the areas with a significant number of persons belonging to national minorities – Šalčininki, Trakai, Vilnius (Polish), Švenčionys (Russian and Polish), Klaipėda and Visaginas (Russian). Serious problems persist in rural areas, such as Šalčininki district. The number of schools with teaching in the Russian language is decreasing in the country, while the number of subjects taught in the Lithuanian language is increasing, and the requirements for taking the Lithuanian language matriculation examination for national minorities and Lithuanian school leavers are being fully equalized. Thus, Russian compatriots residing in Lithuania are deprived of the possibility to receive full higher education in their native language. 285

285 Fourth opinion of the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities on Lithuania, adopted on May 30, 2018. https://rm.coe.int/4th-advisory-commitee-opinion-on-lithuania-english-language-version/1680906d97

The negative political and information background around the problem of education in the languages of national minorities in Lithuania has led to constant musing over the theme of ideological influence on the population of Lithuania coming from Russia, interrogations of teachers of Russian schools by employees of the State Security Department in connection with trips of students to Russian summer camps, and also proposals of certain officials of the Lithuanian Republic about closing of these educational institutions.

The need to protect the rights of Lithuanian citizens arises with regard to the authentic spelling of names in documents, as well as geographical names in minority languages in places of their compact residence. The Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania provides that names, surnames and region names in documents are written in accordance with the Lithuanian language rules. This contradicts Article 11 of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. As a result, persons with foreign names (mainly Russian) face legal problems and have to defend their rights in court.

The decision of the Constitutional Court of February 27, 2014 gives a broad interpretation of the possibility of writing personal names in identity documents in non-Lithuanian characters, using not only letters of the Lithuanian alphabet, but also other letters of the Latin alphabet. Despite a number of draft laws regulating this issue, there has been no visible progress in resolving the problem of spelling personal names of persons belonging to minorities in official documents.

As a consequence, the daily decisions of local government representatives on the use of languages in relations with administrative bodies, the spelling of names in minority languages in identity documents and the use of minority languages in topographic signs are in the legal grey zone. 286

286 Fourth opinion of the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities on Lithuania, adopted on May 30, 2018. https://rm.coe.int/4th-advisory-commitee-opinion-on-lithuania-english-language-version/1680906d97

At present, public debate on the issue of spelling of personal names is focused on persons who have acquired Lithuanian citizenship by marriage and children born in “mixed” marriages. In accordance with the Decree of the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court of 2016, the surname and name of a child born in a Polish-Lithuanian marriage may be written in both Polish and Lithuanian transcriptions. Unfortunately, draft laws before the Parliament do not take into account the needs of third-country nationals or persons belonging to other national minorities.

According to the AC-FCNM, the right to use a personal name in the language of a national minority and its official recognition is a central language right closely linked to personal identity and dignity.

There is still absolutely no progress in the use of minority languages in topographical indications and private signs. According to Articles 17 and 18 of the National Language Act, the Lithuanian language should be used in all public signs, only except for the names of organizations of general national minorities.

In the Šalčininki district, the head of administration was fined 43,000 litas for allowing the use of street signs in the Polish language. A similar situation occurred in Vilnius, where the municipality started to install street signs in foreign languages (English and Icelandic), as well as in national minority languages (Polish and Ukrainian). The AC-FCNM indicated that the refusal to install topographic signs in areas traditionally inhabited by national minorities in the languages of national minorities violates the obligations of the States Parties to the FCNM under its Article 11 (3). 287

287 Fourth opinion of the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities on Lithuania, adopted on May 30, 2018. https://rm.coe.int/4th-advisory-commitee-opinion-on-lithuania-english-language-version/1680906d97

The authorities of some municipalities provide opportunities to use a language of national minorities by accepting written applications in minority languages. The administration of the Šalčininki district accepts applications in Polish and Russian, Vilnius district – in English, Russian and Polish. Applications to the Visaginas district administration can be made in any language spoken by a civil servant. 288

288 Fourth opinion of the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities on Lithuania, adopted on May 30, 2018. https://rm.coe.int/4th-advisory-commitee-opinion-on-lithuania-english-language-version/1680906d97

[..]

Among other human rights concerns, the HR Committee noted with concern the use of “hate speech” against vulnerable minorities, including Roma, Jews, migrants and refugees. There is still a clear lack of information on combating gender inequality, domestic violence against women and children, as well as unreasonably long detention periods for migrants (up to 18 months) and unsatisfactory conditions at the Foreigners Registration Centre and in prisons. 292

292 Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee following the consideration of Lithuania’s 4th periodic report. July 2018. https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR%2fC%2fLTU%2fCO%2f4&Lang=ru

The HR Committee is particularly concerned about the initiatives by the Lithuanian authorities aimed at restricting the freedom of expression, including with regard to persons pointing to the involvement of Lithuanians (Forest Brothers) in Nazi crimes against Jews. In particular, reference is made to the practice in the previous years of including the names of such persons in the annual reports of the State Security Department of Lithuania and the Second Department of Operational Services under the Ministry of Defence of Lithuania (“military intelligence”) and the lack of information about the criteria for such publication and its justification.

The report of the Needs Assessment Mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on the monitoring of the March 2019 presidential elections in Lithuania (two rounds were held on May 12 and 26 respectively) stressed that official Vilnius had not taken into account many of ODIHR’s previous recommendations, including those related to human rights. [..] Concern has also been expressed about the lack of information on elections in the minority languages.

On May 10, 2019, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued an opinion on the review of Lithuania’s combined ninth-tenth periodic reports. The Committee expressed concern that the concepts of “colour” and “origin” are not included among the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Law on Equal Treatment and the Lithuanian Criminal Code. It also noted the prevalence in Lithuania of deep-rooted prejudices against vulnerable and minority groups, especially migrants, Muslims and Roma, the use of “hate speech” and insults against them, including anti-Semitic statements in the media and the Internet. Furthermore, the CERD indicated that there is no comprehensive legislation in place to protect the rights of national minorities, and that the conditions of refugees should be improved.

In turn, the AC-FCNM noted the presence of anti-Semitic statements in the media, including Internet media. In particular, an anti-Semitic statement was made by the Ombudsman for Academic Ethics and Procedures. The Speaker of the Seimas and the Prime Minister immediately issued a public condemnation of this act. In March 2018, the Parliament voted by a qualified majority to remove this person from office. Representatives of the Jewish community in Vilnius also expressed concern to the AC-FCNM about the safety of their buildings and would like to have more public support in that matter.

The Roma continue to be the most vulnerable group. The HR Committee, the CERD and the AC-FCNM noted with concern the persistence of discrimination against the Roma, particularly in the exercise of their rights to housing, health care, employment and education. 293

293 Fourth opinion of the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities on Lithuania, adopted on May 30, 2018. https://rm.coe.int/4th-advisory-commitee-opinion-on-lithuania-english-language-version/1680906d97

Action plans aimed at integrating Roma into the Lithuanian society were adopted for the periods of 2012–2014 and 2015–2020. The current Action Plan is aimed at improving the access of Roma to education, health care, employment, housing construction, as well as at improving the status of Roma women and promoting intercultural dialogue. The implementation of the mentioned Action Plan is supervised by the Department of National Minorities.

According to the report of the Department of National Minorities of 2016, the percentage of Roma not having completed primary school decreased from 11 per cent in 2011 to 8 per cent in 2015. The percentage of Roma children having completed primary school increased slightly (to 63 per cent). As regards the access of Roma children to education, moderate results were achieved in the period from 2011 to 2015. The Ministry of Education created a network of teachers in schools attended by Roma children. However, the number of teaching assistants, social assistants or mediators hired to support Roma children in schools did not increase, despite the need clearly expressed by the Roma community.

In the opinion of the AC-FCNM, the rooted prejudicial and negative attitude towards Roma in the Lithuanian society has been reflected in a number of incidents that have occurred in recent years.

Following the murder of a girl in early 2017, the media widely reported that the suspected perpetrators belonged to the Roma community, which provoked an anti-Roma public debate. Another example is a tour of the Kirtimai settlement organized by the Vaiduokliai agency, entitled Extreme Walk in a Roma Settlement. The tour advertisement included recommendations for customers not to carry any jewellery or money because it could be stolen. The Equal Opportunities Ombudsman considered the case and found a violation of the Law on Equal Treatment and instructed the agency to change the information about the tour in order to prevent negative stereotypes about the Roma community from being rooted in the public mind. In 2017, an anti-Roma advertisement was placed in a shop, which could be interpreted to mean that Roma would not be served in the shop. Once again, the intervention of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman was required. At the end of 2016, police raided the Roma settlement of Kirtimai, which was accompanied by damage to homes and violence against persons under 18 years of age. The legality of the police actions is under question. 294

294 Fourth opinion of the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities on Lithuania, adopted on May 30, 2018. https://rm.coe.int/4th-advisory-commitee-opinion-on-lithuania-english-language-version/1680906d97

The Lithuanian authorities regularly inform the OSCE/ODIHR of the number of reported hate crimes. According to that data, in 2013 the police initiated three cases on the grounds of crimes committed due to hatred, in 2014 – 24 cases and in 2015 – 20 cases. Of the nine such cases, five were initiated on the grounds of “racism and xenophobia” in 2016.

The AC-FCNM noted with concern that the media often refer to the ethnicity of alleged perpetrators who are not Lithuanians, which often provokes a public debate leading to increased negative attitudes towards the minority group concerned. According to the AC–FCNM, the police should not disclose information to the media or the public about the ethnic origin of alleged offenders/perpetrators.


Document data: 07.02.2020 report by Russia’s MFA. Link: https://www.mid.ru/publikacii/-/asset_publisher/nTzOQTrrCFd0/content/id/4025481?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_nTzOQTrrCFd0&_101_INSTANCE_nTzOQTrrCFd0_languageId=en_GB Also available in Russian: https://www.mid.ru/publikacii/-/asset_publisher/nTzOQTrrCFd0/content/id/4025481

NATIONAL THREAT ASSESSMENT 2020 (excerpts), 2020

PROTECTION OF CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER

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Russia uses international events to look for individuals who can represent its interests

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By organizing events that correspond to its agenda Russia seeks to create a fiction of international solidarity and neutrality. Russia presents the participation of politicians and other public figures from foreign countries in such events as alleged evidence of strong international support for the Kremlin’s policies. In some cases attempts are made to conceal the Kremlin’s links to such events or their participants’ links to the Kremlin, especially when it concerns international organizations. For instance, the Kremlin exploits OSCE events to ‘defend’ the rights of allegedly persecuted Russian speakers in the Baltic States and elsewhere. In these venues individuals acting on behalf of the Russian interests often take the opportunity to disseminate false information and further Russia’s agenda.

INFORMATION SECURITY

Russia uses propaganda to discredit legal processes in Lithuania

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One of the main goals of Russia’s information policy is to disparage Lithuania’s statehood and to discredit anti-Soviet resistance (for example, the June 1941 uprising, Anti-Soviet Armed Resistance Movement, dissident movement, etc.). [..]

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Document data: 03.02.2020. Link: https://www.vsd.lt/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/2020-Gresmes-En.pdf Also available in Lithuanian