HRC Concluding observations on Lithuania (excerpts), 2018

B.Positive aspects

3.The Committee welcomes the following legislative and institutional measures taken by the State party:

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(h)The development and implementation of the Action Plan for Promoting Non-discrimination 2017–2019, the establishment of the Department of National Minorities in 2015 and the adoption of the Action Plan for Roma Integration into Lithuanian Society for the period 2015–2020;

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C.Principal matters of concern and recommendations

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Discrimination against Roma

7.While noting the various programmes to improve the situation of the Roma community and the progress achieved in certain areas, in particular education and employment, the Committee is concerned at reports that the Roma community continues to suffer from widespread discrimination, especially in the areas of housing, health care, employment and education. In particular, it is concerned (a) that part of the Roma population does not have compulsory health insurance; (b) at the persistent low literacy rates among Roma compared with the general population, the low percentage of Roma people with a general education and the decrease in the number of Roma people with secondary and higher education; and (c) at the low employment rate among Roma, in particular women. The Committee regrets the lack of statistics on the number of complaints of discrimination against the Roma community and is concerned about the low number of investigations and lack of accountability for such acts (arts. 2, 24, 26 and 27).

8. The State party should intensify its efforts to address stereotypes, prejudice, intolerance and systemic discrimination against the Roma population and ensure that complaints are investigated, perpetrators are held accountable and victims have access to full reparation. It should ensure access by the Rom a to the education system, including by increasing school enrolment and completion rates among Roma children. It should also implement measures to ensure universal health coverage and equal access by Roma to health-care services, housing and the labour market. It should ensure the effective implementation of the Action Plan for Roma Integration into Lithuanian Society (2015 – 2020), including by allocating sufficient funding, and ensure the effective coordination among and accountability of local authorities.

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Hate speech and hate crimes

11.While noting the legislative and other measures taken by the State party to combat hate speech and hate crimes, the Committee remains concerned about intolerance and prejudice towards vulnerable and minority groups, including Roma, Jews, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, as well as the prevalence of hate speech and hate crimes against these groups, including on the Internet. The Committee is concerned that hate speech and hate crimes based on gender identity are not expressly prohibited in national legislation (article 170 of the Criminal Code) and at reports that the aggravating circumstance established under article 60.1.12 of the Criminal Code has never been applied on the ground of sexual orientation. The Committee is further concerned at the low number of complaints, investigations, cases brought before domestic courts and convictions of hate crimes and the lack of information on penalties imposed. While noting the State party’s statement that data collection has improved, the Committee regrets the lack of accurate official data disaggregated by social group with regard to complaints about discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes (arts. 2, 3, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26 and 27).

12. The State party should:

(a) Strengthen its efforts to combat intolerance, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination towards vulnerable and minority groups, including Roma, Jews, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, by, inter alia, increasing training for law enforcement personnel, prosecutors and the judiciary and conducting awareness-raising campaigns promoting sensitivity and respect for diversity among the general public;

(b) Increase its efforts to prevent hate speech and hate crimes, including by effectively implementing article 170 of the Criminal Code, and ensure that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is prohibited by law, including on the ground of gender identity, in accordance with articles 19 and 20 of the Covenant and the Committee’s general comment No. 34 (2011) on the freedoms of opinion and expression;

(c) Encourage the reporting of hate crimes and hate speech and ensure that crimes are promptly identified and registered as such, including through the establishment of a comprehensive, disaggregated data-collection system;

(d) Strengthen the investigation capacity of law enforcement officials on hate crimes and criminal hate speech, including on the Internet, and ensure that all cases are systematically investigated, that perpetrators are held accountable with penalties commensurate with the crime and that victims have access to full reparation.

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Freedom of expression and association

27.The Committee is concerned at initiatives that would restrict and inhibit freedom of expression, including that of individuals addressing the complicity of Lithuanians in Nazi crimes against Jews and others. In particular, it is concerned at reports that the names of associations, news agencies, journalists, human rights defenders and other individuals are published in the annual Assessment of Threats to National Security by the State Security Department, and at the absence of any information regarding the criteria and procedures for such publication or its justification. It is also concerned at reports of recently proposed amendments to the Law on Consumer Protection which would ban the sale of material that “distorts historical facts” about the nation (arts. 19 and 21).

28. The State party should cease publicly referring to individuals and entities that exercise their freedom of expression as “ national security threats ” . It should ensure that all of its initiatives, legislative or otherwise, guarantee that authors, journalists, human rights defenders and other individuals and associations are able to freely exercise their right to freedom of expression, in accordance with article 19 of the Covenant and the Committee ’ s general comment No. 34.

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D.Dissemination of information relating to the Covenant

31. The State party should widely disseminate the Covenant and its two Optional Protocols, its fourth periodic report and the present concluding observations with a view to raising awareness of the rights enshrined in the Covenant among the judicial, legislative and administrative authorities, civil society and non-governmental organizations operating in the country and the general public, including members of minority communities. The State party should ensure that the report and the present concluding observations are translated into the official language of the State party.

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Document data: adopted 20.07.2018, published 29.08.2018 CCPR/C/LTU/CO/4 Link: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR%2fC%2fLTU%2fCO%2f4&Lang=en

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