Report on the implementation of national Roma integration strategies (excerpts), 2019





1.1. Focus of measures


Distribution of education measures by relevance to the respective sub-areas of the Council Recommendation

Thematic sub-areaMS
Fight early school-leaving AT, BE, BG, CY, ES, EL, HU, HR, IT, LV, LT, LU, NL, PT, RO, SE, SK, UK
Consider the needs of individual pupilsAT, CY, CZ, ES, HU, IT, LV, LT, LU, PT, RO, SE, SI, UK
Encourage Roma participation in – and completion of – secondary and tertiary educationAT, BG, HR, CZ, ES, HU, LT, LU, PT, RO, SK
Increase the access to and quality of early childhood education and careAT, BG, HR, CY, CZ, ES, HU, IT, LU, NL, RO, SI, SK
Eliminate school segregationAT, BE, BG, CZ, EL, ES, HR, IT, LU, NL, RO, SK
Use inclusive and tailor-made teaching and learning methodsAT, BG, HR, CY, CZ, LT, LU, NL, RO, SI, SK, UK
Support the acquisition of skills adapted to labour market needsAT, BG, CZ, EL, ES, LT, LU, NL, PT, RO, SI, SK
Support transition between educational levelsAT, BG, CZ, ES, HU, HR, IT, LU, NL, PT, RO, SK
Encourage parental involvementAT, BE, BG, CY, ES, HR, LV, LT, LU, RO, SK
Improve teacher trainingAT, BG, CY, CZ, ES, LT, RO, SE, SI, SK
Promote extracurricular activities AT, BG, CY, EL, IT, LV, LT, RO, SI, SK
Widen access to second-chance education and adult learning AT, BG, CY, CZ, EL, ES, HR, LT. LU, UK
Fight illiteracy AT, BG, CY, HU, ES, HR, NL, RO
Prevent inappropriate placement of Roma in special needs schoolsAT, CZ, ES, HR, RO, SK


1.2. Achievements and challenges

The most widespread achievement mentioned by NRCPs in the area of education is mediation9 . Other achievements include: development of kindergarten capacities10; improved support to fighting and monitoring early school-leaving 11 ; and including Roma inclusion and non-discrimination related topics in teacher training or national curricula12 .

9 AT, FR, EL, ES, IT, LV, RO

10 e.g. CZ, SK

11 e.g. HU, ES, LV

12 e.g. AT, ES, IT, PT

The most significant challenges highlighted by NRCPs include: school participation, absenteeism, early school-leaving, the transition from primary to secondary and the completion of secondary education. 13 Other challenges include: fighting segregation 14 ; ensuring and developing human capacities15; cooperation among stakeholders16; promoting early childhood education and care;17 adult learning and second chance education18; and data availability19 .

13 AT, CY, EE, EL, ES, FR, HR, LT, NL

14 EL, ES, HR, RO

15 EL, LV, SE, SK

16 ES, LT, LV, PL

17 BG, EL, ES

18 AT, BG, EL

19 HR, IT, PT

1.3. Policy learning


Promising approaches:
BG, CZ, DK, EL, FI, FR, HR, HU, LT, PL, SK: Introduction or extension of obligatory (free) preschool, ESIF funded development of kindergartens, training for kindergarten teachers
CY, EL, ES, IE, IT, HR, HU, LT, LV, NL, PL, PT, RO, SE, SI: Programmes aimed at preventing school drop-out of Roma (girls) through afterschool support, tutoring, scholarships, mentoring, mediation, assistants, second chance education, teacher training, support to families
AT, CY, FI, HU, IE, IT, PT, RO: Introducing Roma history (including the Holocaust) and/or culture in national curricula
IE, HR, RO: Allocation of places to Roma in secondary and tertiary education
LT: Network of schools attended by Roma children receiving capacity building and competence development
SE: Teachers training (Södertörn University) and secondary-level adult education in Romani



2.1. Focus of measures


Distribution of employment measures by relevance to the respective sub-areas of the Council Recommendation

Thematic sub-areaMS
Eliminate labour market barriers, including discriminationAT, BE, CY, CZ, EL, ES, HR, HU, LT, LU, NL, PT, RO, SK
Provide personalised guidance to individual job-seekersAT, BG, CZ, EL, ES, HU, HR, LV, LU, NL, RO, SI, SK
Support vocational training AT, BG, CY, ES, LV, LU, NL, RO, SK
Support lifelong learning and skills development AT, BG, ES, HR, HU, LV, LT, LU, NL, PT
Support self-employment and entrepreneurshipAT, BG, HR, CZ, EL, ES, HU, LT
Support first work experienceAT, BG, CY, CZ, EL, ES, HR,
Support on-the-job trainingBG, CZ, ES, HU, LV, LU, SK
Provide equal access to mainstream public employment servicesBG, HR, CZ, HU, LV, SK, ES, UK
Promote employment opportunities within the civil serviceEL, HU, NL, SK


2.2. Achievements and challenges

In their reporting on 2017, several NRCPs referred to the positive impact of economic growth on the prospects for Roma employment21. But even more NRCPs referred to targeted measures, such as regional employment programmes (career-counselling, vocational or on-the-job training and job matching tailored to Roma or vulnerable job-seekers)22. Such measures are even more effective when Roma are involved as mediators, social workers, or other service providers.

21 BG, ES, HR

22 AT, BG, CZ, ES, FR, HR, HU, LV, NL, SK

NRCPs emphasise three main types of challenges: capacity of implementing structures 23 ; discrimination against Roma24; and attitudes and trust of Roma themselves25 .

23 AT, EL, PL, PT, SK

24 EE, ES, LT, LV, NL, PT, RO

25 BG, EE, FR, NL, PT

2.3. Policy learning


Promising approaches:
٠ BG, CY, ES, IT, LV, NL, PT, SI: Regional or local employment programmes (individualised counselling) to promote active job-seeking or self-employment
٠ HU, EL, ES, FR: Targeted programmes to improve the employability of Roma women (in the social sector)
٠ IT, LT, HU: Examples of cooperation with employers for job placements for Roma and fighting stereotypes
٠ SK: Amendment of the Act on Public Employment Services providing for an individual action plan to support labour market integration binding the jobseeker and the labour office
٠ BE: Since 2016, Roma have access to the ‘integration path’ set up for people of foreign origin in Wallonia (courses on French language, basic knowledge of society; support to find employment and children’s schooling). Municipalities employ Roma mediators in public social assistance centres, prevention or proximity services
٠ HR: Ombudsman’s office gives antidiscrimination training to public employment officers and other civil servants
٠ UK: Race disparity audit and website to collect and disseminate information on discrimination in employment



3.1. Focus of measures

Distribution of health measures by relevance to the respective sub-areas of the Council Recommendation

Thematic sub-areaMS
Remove barriers to healthcareAT, BE, BG, CZ, EL, ES, HR, HU, IT, RO, SE, SK, UK
Promote health awarenessAT, BG, CZ, EL, ES, HR, HU, IT, LV, NL, SE, SI, SK, UK,
Improve access to free vaccination programmes targeting children and groups most at riskAT, BG, EL, HR, HU, SK, UK
Improve access to medical check-ups, prenatal and postnatal care and family planningAT, ES, HU, SI, SK, UK


3.2. Achievements and challenges

The achievements most often mentioned by NRCPs are: vaccination campaigns26; other prevention and detection programmes 27; improving hygiene, health conditions and access to healthcare 28 ; awareness raising29; health mediation30; and multi-stakeholder cooperation involving national and local authorities and civil society31. There was a notable lack of reference to antidiscrimination efforts; improving hygienic living conditions; and access to healthy food.

26 EL, FR, HU, HR

27 HU, PL, SI

28 AT, HU, RO

29 CZ, HU, LT, SI

30 FR, RO, SE, SK

31 BG, RO

Challenges reported include: lack of coordination and effective communication between the national and local levels; maintaining appropriate (national or EU) funding or staffing32; lack of self-consciousness on health matters 33; lack of health insurance coverage among Roma 34 ; and insufficient knowledge of health professionals on Roma issues.35 There was also concern about low vaccination rates among Roma, which in some countries are reported to contribute to higher premature mortality and morbidity rates36. Participation and empowerment of Roma in health care initiatives is considered challenging, also due to low literacy and language barriers37 .

32 EL, HU, LT, SE, RO

33 BG, CZ, EL, HR

34 BG, ES, HR, RO

35 AT, CZ,

36 ES, EL

37 BG, PL, SK

3.3. Policy learning


Promising approaches:
٠ BG, CZ, DK, EL, FR, HU, PL, PT, RO, SE, SI, SK: Training and employment of Roma health mediators (assistants, visitors, bridge builders) to promote Roma access to healthcare
٠ AT, BG, EL, FR, HU, HR, PL, SK, UK: Vaccination campaigns targeting Roma (girls, women), and those living in marginalised areas
٠ CZ, IT, RO, SI, SK: Long-term national health programmes, action plans, strategies
٠ ES: Ensuring Roma and civil participation in the design of health prevention and training programmes for social service professionals
٠ FI: Roma Wellbeing Study by the National Institute for Health and Welfare
٠ PT: Evidence-based planning of interventions to fight health inequalities of Roma, including information and awareness raising materials on teenage motherhood, paediatric follow-up and healthy eating habits
٠ LT: Health awareness seminars on preventive care, sexual and reproductive health and childcare targeting Roma women and youth



4.1. Focus of measures


Distribution of health measures by relevance to the respective sub-areas of the Council Recommendation

Thematic sub-areaMS
Ensure access to public utilities and infrastructure for housingBE, BG, CY, EL, ES, HR, RO, SI, SK, UK
Eliminate spatial segregation and promote desegregationAT, BE, BG, EL, ES, HU, IT, LT, RO, SK, UK
Promote non-discriminatory access to social housingAT, CZ, EL, ES, HU, IT, LT, LV, RO, SI, SK, UK
Ensure that urban regeneration projects include integrated housing interventions for marginalised communities BE, BG, ES, HR, HU, IT, SK
Promote community-led local development and/or integrated territorial investments supported by the ESIFES, HR, HU, IT
Provide halting sites for non-sedentiary RomaAT, UK


4.2. Achievements and challenges

NRCPs reported that the most significant achievements were in access to social housing38. Another important cluster of achievements mentioned by several NRCPs was the elimination of slums and spatial segregation39. NRCPs also referred to results in the provision of halting sites40, access to public utilities (such as water, electricity and gas) and infrastructure for housing41; the legalisation of housing42; and in urban regeneration43 .

38 AT, CZ, EL, HU, LV, LT, PT, RO

39 ES, FR, HU, IT, LT

40 FR, NL

41 SI

42 HR

43 BG

Reported challenges include: spatial segregation44; barriers for Roma to access housing in the private sector45; as well as public support for and legislation on access to social housing46 .

44 BG, CY, ES, SK

45 ES, LT, LV, NL

46 CZ, BG

4.3. Policy learning


Promising approaches:
٠ ES: Local and regional governments with NGO support have significantly reduced the prevalence of shanty towns over the past 15 years leading to desegregation as part of an integrated approach with sustainable improvements in education, health and employment
٠ CZ: ESIF support scaling up local ‘housing first’ initiatives, built on models of successful social housing pilot by local governments and social rental agency by NGOs, excluding housing in segregated areas (methodology to identify residential segregation piloted by the Ministry of Labour and 12 municipalities)
٠ EL: New regulations to promote: relocation from camps and settlements; improvement of infrastructure; creation of self-management and protection system of residential complexes; and rent subsidy for finding a home in integrated settings
٠ FR: Multi-stakeholder comprehensive ‘housing first’ approach in Toulouse to help Roma move from camps to integrated areas, accompanied by social support, literacy and other training, access to education, employment and healthcare
٠ SI: Public tenders for basic communal infrastructure (water, electricity, roads) targeting municipalities where Roma live
٠ LT: Desegregation process in the Kirtimai settlement in Vilnius by relocation combined with offer of social housing with subsidised rent to families with many children.
٠ SE: Guidance and training for landlords to increase knowledge and fight discrimination against Roma



1. Focus of measures


Distribution of non-discrimination measures by relevance to the respective sub-areas of the Council Recommendation

Thematic sub-areaMS
Fight antigypsyism by raising awareness about the benefits of Roma integrationAT, BE, BG, CZ, ES, IT, LT, LV, PT, SK, SE
Fight antigypsyism by raising awareness on diversityAT, BE, BG, CZ, EE, ES, IT, LT, LV, PT, SE, SK
Fight antigypsyism by combatting Anti-Roma rhetoric and hate speechAT, BG, CZ, ES, HU, IT, LT, LV, SK, UK
Fight violence, including domestic violence, against women and girlsAT, ES, IT, NL
Fight (multiple) discrimination faced by children and women involving all relevant stakeholders AT, ES, IT, NL
Fight underage and forced marriages AT, NL
Ensure the effective practical enforcement of Directive 2000/43/ECCZ, HR, IT, LT
Fight trafficking in human beingsAT, HU
Implement desegregation measures regionally and locallyHU, NL, UK
Ensure that eviction are in full compliance with EU law and international human rights obligationsIT
Fight begging involving children, through the enforcement of legislationAT
Promote the cooperation between Member States in situations with cross-border dimensionAT


2. Achievements and challenges

The achievements most often mentioned by NRCPs were: improving the conditions of Roma women and children47; combating antigypsyism by breaking stereotypes or promoting Roma culture and history 48 ; and involving all relevant actors (public authorities, civil society and Roma communities) in efforts to promote anti-discrimination49 .

47 BG, EE, ES, HU, HR, PT, SK

48 ES, FR, HU, LV

49 IT, ES, SI

Several NRCPs referred to challenges of improving access to legal protection and rights awareness50, as well as difficulties in fighting against stereotypes51 and improving the situation of Roma women and children.52 The mere fact that several Member States53 – including some with large Roma communities and several with very high rates of perceived discrimination among Roma – did not report any antidiscrimination measures underlines the gravity of challenges in this area.

50 AT, CZ, LT, PT

51 EE, ES, HR, LV

52 BG, ES, SK

53 CY, FR, EL, PL, RO


Document data: 06.09.2019 Link [with annexes not quoted here]:

ECJ judgment in the case C-622/17 (excerpt), 2019


79. In its observations before the Court, the LRTK stated that the decision of 18 May 2016 had been taken on the ground that a programme broadcast on the channel NTV Mir Lithuania contained false information which incited hostility and hatred based on nationality against the Baltic countries concerning the collaboration of Lithuanians and Latvians in connection with the Holocaust and the allegedly nationalistic and neo-Nazi internal policies of the Baltic countries, policies which were said to be a threat to the Russian national minority living in those countries. That programme was addressed, according to the LRTK, in a targeted manner to the Russian-speaking minority in Lithuania and aimed, by the use of various propaganda techniques, to influence negatively and suggestively the opinion of that social group relating to the internal and external policies of the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Latvia, to accentuate the divisions and polarisation of society, and to emphasise the tension in the Eastern European region created by Western countries and the Russian Federation’s role of victim.

80. It does not appear from the documents before the Court that those statements are contested, which is, however, for the referring court to ascertain. On that basis, a measure such as that at issue in the main proceedings must be regarded as pursuing, in general, a public policy objective.


Document data: C-622/17, Judgment of the Court (Second Chamber) of 04.07.2019, Baltic Media Alliance Ltd v Lietuvos radijo ir televizijos komisija. Link:;jsessionid=BDEEF892B6091B14D3F57493FD010CE6?text=&docid=215786&pageIndex=0&doclang=en Also available in Lithuanian and other languages

Publisher’s note: Minority issues are also raised in Advocate-General’s opinion in this case, para. 76

2018 Report on International Religious Freedom

Executive Summary

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, freedom of religious practice, and state recognition of religious organizations, provided they do not contradict the constitution or the law.  The government extends special benefits to nine “traditional” religious groups and more limited benefits to four “recognized” religious groups.  Religious groups must register with the government to gain legal status.  Parliament had not yet considered the recognition application by the indigenous religious group Romuva, following a favorable recommendation by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), and again did not vote on the recognition application of the United Methodist Church, pending since 2001.  The government allocated funds to begin the conversion of a Soviet-era sports palace built atop a Jewish cemetery into a conference center.  The Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) supported the project, but its Vilnius branch and other Jewish groups issued a statement against it and two other projects on former Jewish cemetery sites.  Parliament removed the ombudsman for academic ethics amid allegations of anti-Semitism.  The government again paid 3.62 million euros ($4.15 million) to the Foundation for the Disposal of Good Will Compensation for the Immovable Property of Jewish Religious Communities (Good Will Foundation) as compensation for nationalized Jewish communal property and 1.2 million euros ($1.38 million) to traditional religious groups.  Senior government officials participated and spoke at Holocaust remembrance events.

Some participants at a nationalist march of 1,000 persons in March wore fascist symbols and carried banners of Lithuanian partisans who critics said were Nazi collaborators.  Some participants at another nationalist march of 300 persons in February carried a banner with a picture of a World War II (WWII)-era anti-Semite, Kazys Skirpa.  Anonymous anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim internet postings in response to articles about Jewish or Muslim issues were common; media portals generally removed them.

U.S. embassy officials and the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues) met with government officials, including a vice chancellor, vice ministers at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture, members of parliament (MPs), and the head of the LJC to discuss ways to combat intolerance and anti-Semitism and to encourage resolution of remaining issues of compensation for Jewish private property seized during the Nazi and Soviet eras.  Embassy officials discussed Jewish heritage preservation with local government officials.  In September the Ambassador spoke on the importance of religious tolerance in remarks at the Symposium for Diplomats Who Saved Jewish Lives.

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 2.8 million (July 2018 estimate). According to the 2011 census, of the 90 percent of the population that responded to the question about religious affiliation, 86 percent is Roman Catholic, and 7 percent does not identify with any religious group. Religious groups that together constitute less than 5 percent of the population include Russian Orthodox, Old Believers, Lutherans, Reformed Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, Greek Catholics, and Karaites. In the 2011 census, approximately 5,100 persons identified as followers of Romuva, a religion practiced in the country since before Christianity. According to the 2011 census, the Jewish population is predominately concentrated in larger cities and is estimated at 3,050. The population of Karaites, who traditionally live in Trakai and in the greater Vilnius region, is estimated at 250. The Sunni Muslim population numbers approximately 2,800, the majority of whom are Tatars, a community living primarily in Vilnius and Kaunas. The Muslim community also includes recent converts, migrants, refugees, and temporary workers from the Middle East and Africa, most of whom are Sunni.

According to the 2011 census, less than 1 percent of the population belongs to other religious groups. Among these, the most numerous are Jehovah’s Witnesses, members of the Full Gospel Word of Faith Movement, Pentecostals/Charismatics, Old Baltic faith communities, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, and members of the New Apostolic Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom


The constitution stipulates there is no state religion and provides for the right of individuals to choose freely any religion or belief, to profess their religion and perform religious practices, individually or with others, in private or in public, and to practice and teach their beliefs.  It states no one may compel another person (or be compelled) to choose or profess any religion or belief.  The constitution allows limits on the freedom to profess and spread religious beliefs when necessary to protect health, safety, public order, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.  It restricts freedom of expression if it incites religious hatred, violence, or discrimination.  It stipulates religious belief may not serve as justification for failing to comply with laws.

Under the constitution, the government may temporarily restrict freedom of expression of religious belief during a period of martial law or a state of emergency, although it has never invoked this right.

The constitution acknowledges the freedom of parents or guardians to oversee the religious and moral education of their children without interference and stipulates public education shall be secular, although schools may provide religious instruction at the request of parents.  The constitution grants recognition to “traditional” religious groups and provides for recognition of other religious groups if they have support in society and their teachings and practices do not conflict with law or public morals.  It states the status of religious groups shall be established by agreement or law, and recognized religious groups shall be free to carry out their activities as long as they are not in conflict with the constitution or laws.

The law defines religious groups as (1) religious communities, (2) religious associations, which comprise at least two religious communities under common leadership, and (3) religious centers, which are higher governing bodies of religious associations.

The law recognizes as “traditional” those religious groups able to trace back their presence in the country at least 300 years.  The law lists nine “traditional” religious groups:  Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, Evangelical Reformed, Russian Orthodox, Old Believer, Jewish, Sunni Muslim, and Karaite Jewish.  Traditional religious groups may perform marriages that are state-recognized, establish joint private/public schools, provide religious instruction in public schools, and receive annual government subsidies.  Their highest-ranking leaders are eligible to apply for diplomatic passports, and they may provide chaplains for the military, social care institutions, hospitals, and prisons.  The state provides social security and healthcare insurance contributions for clergy, religious workers, and members of monastic orders of the traditional religious groups.  Traditional religious groups are also not required to pay social and health insurance taxes for clergy and most other religious workers and members of monastic orders.

Other religious groups and associations may apply to the MOJ for state recognition if they have been officially registered in the country for at least 25 years.  Parliament votes whether to grant this status upon recommendation from the MOJ.  The Evangelical Baptist Union of Lithuania, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Pentecostal Evangelical Belief Christian Union, and the New Apostolic Church of Lithuania are the only state-recognized nontraditional religious groups.

Recognition entitles nontraditional religious groups to perform marriages and provide religious instruction in public schools.  Unlike traditional groups, however, they are not eligible for annual subsidies from the state budget.  The law provides recognized nontraditional religious groups with legal entity status, but they do not qualify for certain social security and healthcare contributions by the state.

The MOJ handles official registration of religious communities, associations, and centers.  Groups wishing to register must submit an application and supporting documentation to the MOJ, including their bylaws describing their religious teachings and governance, minutes of the founding meeting, and a list of the founders, at least 15 of whom must be citizens.  Upon approval of its application, a religious community, association, or center may register as a legal entity with the State Enterprise Center of Registers.  Registration is voluntary for religious communities, associations, and centers affiliated with traditional religious groups and mandatory for nontraditional communities wishing to receive legal status.

Registration of traditional religious communities, associations, and centers is free of charge, while nontraditional communities pay a fee of 32 euros ($37).  Traditional communities also have a simpler registration procedure, needing to submit only an application, decisions of their governing body on the appointment of their leader, and their headquarters address.  The MOJ may refuse to register a religious group if full data are not included in the application; the activities of the group violate human rights or public order; or a group with the same name has already registered.  According to the Center of Registers, there are 1,115 traditional and 194 nontraditional religious communities, associations, and centers officially registered in the register of legal entities.

For nontraditional religious groups, official registration is a prerequisite for opening a bank account, owning property, and acting in a legal or official capacity as a community.  The law allows all registered religious groups to own property for use as prayer houses, homes, and other functions, and permits construction of facilities necessary for religious activities.  All registered groups are eligible for public funds from municipalities for cultural and social projects.

In December 2017, parliament amended the law to exempt all clergy from registered groups from compulsory military service.  Previously, only clergy (and theological students) from traditional religious groups were exempt from military service.  In the event of a conflict, clergy would be called to serve as chaplains in the military.

Unregistered communities have no legal status, but the constitution allows them to conduct worship services and seek new members.

The Interministerial Commission to Coordinate Activities of Governmental Institutions that Deal with Issues of Religious, Esoteric, and Spiritual Groups coordinates investigations of religious groups if there is a concern a group’s actions may be inconsistent with what the commission perceives to be “principles that stress respect for human freedom of expression and freedom of religion.”

The Journalist Ethics Inspectorate, an independent, government-sponsored organization whose head is appointed by parliament, investigates complaints involving the violation of regulatory laws governing the provision of information to the public, including print media and the internet.  These laws include prohibition of the publication of material that fuels religious hatred.  The inspectorate may levy administrative fines on newspapers or refer cases to the Office of the General Prosecutor.

The Soviet Union nationalized all religious buildings, some of which it redistributed, while others continued to serve religious communities.  For properties belonging to the national government, registered groups could apply to the appropriate ministry for the restitution of, or compensation for, religious property they owned before June 19, 1948.  For former religious properties belonging to municipalities, registered groups applied for restitution or compensation to the appropriate municipality.  Religious communities could also register a claim for property not officially registered under their name but which they used during the Soviet period.  If the ministry or municipality determines the claim is legitimate, it drafts a resolution officially returning the property to its original owner.  The deadline for registered religious groups to submit a claim for religious property restitution was 1997.  The government continues to review cases filed by the 1997 deadline but is not accepting any new claims.  Religious groups may appeal the decisions of the ministry or municipality in court.  Unregistered religious groups could not apply for restitution.

A compensation fund for Jewish-owned communal property nationalized under totalitarian regimes is designed to support Jewish educational, religious, scientific, cultural, and healthcare projects with public benefits.  Pursuant to the law, the government is committed to disbursing 37 million euros ($42.43 million) over the course of the decade ending March 1, 2023.  Funds go to the Good Will Foundation, a public institution governed by national and international Jewish leaders.

The country has no law for the restitution of heirless private property.

The government allocates funds to traditional religious communities for refurbishing houses of prayer, restoring old cemeteries, and preserving cultural heritage sites.  Each traditional religion group receives 3,075 euros ($3,500) every year as a base fund plus a variable component that depends on the number of believers of each community.

The constitution and other law permits and funds religious instruction in public schools for traditional and other state-recognized religious groups.  Most religious instructors are regular state-employed teachers, but some are priests, seminarians, or monks.  Parents must choose either religious instruction or secular ethics classes for their children, but may not opt out of both offerings.  Schools decide which of the traditional religious groups will be represented in their curricula on the basis of requests from parents of children up to age 14, after which students present the requests themselves.

There are 30 private schools established by religious communities, 26 Catholic and four Jewish; students of different religious groups may attend these schools.  All accredited private schools (religious and nonreligious) receive funding from municipalities and the Ministry of Education and Science through a voucher system based on the number of pupils.  Each private school receives 1,099 euros ($1,300) per student.  Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, national minority schools, which include schools established by the Jewish community, receive 20 percent more – 1,318.80 euros ($1,500) – per student than other private schools.  The per-student stipend covers only the program costs of school operation.  Private school operators generally bear responsibility for covering capital outlays; however, per an agreement the government signed with the Holy See, the Ministry of Education and Science funds both the capital and operating costs of private Catholic schools.

The criminal code prohibits incitement of hatred and discrimination based on religion and stipulates fines or up to two years in prison for violations.  The code penalizes interference with religious ceremonies of recognized religious groups with community service, fines, or detention for up to 90 days.  The law does not address interference with or incitement of hatred against unrecognized religious groups.

The Office of the Equal Opportunities (OEO) ombudsperson investigates complaints of discrimination, including those based on religion, directed against state institutions, educational institutions, employers, and product and service sellers and producers.  Parliament appoints the ombudsperson for a period of five years.  The office conducts independent investigations, publishes surveys and independent reports on discrimination, and provides conclusions and recommendations on any discrimination-related issues.  The office also makes proposals to state and municipal institutions and government agencies concerning the improvement of legal acts and priorities of the implementation of equal rights policy.  The OEO ombudsperson does not levy monetary penalties.

The parliamentary ombudsperson often works with the OEO ombudsperson but is a separate entity.  The parliamentary ombudsperson examines the conduct of state authorities in serving the population.  The law governing the parliamentary ombudsperson specifically includes religious discrimination within its purview.  The OEO and parliamentary ombudsperson may investigate complaints, recommend changes in the law or draft legislation to parliamentary committees and ministries, and recommend cases to the prosecutor general’s office for pretrial investigation.

The criminal code prohibits public display of Soviet and Nazi symbols or national anthems.  Violators are subject to fines of 144-289 euros ($170-$330).

The country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


On May 25, the MOJ submitted to parliament an application from the Romuva for state-recognized religious association status.  Minister of Justice Eimutis Misiunas supported the proposal, stating the Romuva’s commitment to reviving national culture was important for the country’s national identity and that Romuva was the country’s fastest growing religious community.  The parliamentary committee on human rights was reviewing the proposal at year’s end.  An application for religious association status by the United Methodist Church of Lithuania, which the MOJ submitted to parliament, with a favorable recommendation, in 2001 remained pending.  According to the MOJ, it was incumbent on the United Methodist Church to advocate for its application in parliament, but the group had not done so.

In April Minister of Economy Virginijus Sinkevicius introduced in parliament an amendment that would ban the sale of material that “distorts historical facts” about the nation, which was met by criticism from many quarters.  Parliament’s legal department concluded it failed to ensure human rights.  The LJC said it “raise[d] well-founded concerns and recall[ed] the dark times of government censorship… and ha[d] given rise to anger, with foundation, in the international Jewish community.”  Lithuanian and international media also reacted negatively, with some viewing the proposed amendment as a response to the publication in 2016 of a controversial book by Lithuanian writer Ruta Vanagaite and a representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center citing participation by Lithuanians in the Holocaust.  The proposal never reached a final vote in parliament, and Sinkevicius withdrew it in May.

In October media reported that the Ministry of Finance had proposed allocating 28.3 million euros ($32.45 million) for the reconstruction of the Vilnius Sports Palace, which the Soviets built on the Snipiskes cemetery, Vilnius’s oldest Jewish cemetery, in 1971.  The plans were to convert the buildings into a conference center, with design work scheduled to begin in 2019, construction in 2020, and an opening by 2021.  In November the government approved the budget allocation.  On August 29, the Vilnius Jewish Community, one of 33 regional branches of the LJC, and other local Jewish groups issued a statement protesting the Sports Palace renovation, as well as other renovation projects of Soviet buildings located on the site of former Jewish cemeteries in Kaunas and Siauliai.  The proposed renovations at the latter two sites remained pending.  The national LJC supported the Vilnius Sports Palace project.  The government stated it would undertake the project in accordance with the August 26, 2009 agreement between the LJC, the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, and the Lithuanian Department of Cultural Heritage, and would protect the area of the cemetery at the Sports Palace and its buffer zone, as well as other related areas.  The LJC and Vilnius municipality said that, in recognition of the sensitivity of the issue, they had installed vehicle barriers and 10 information plaques around the Sports Palace, noting it had once been a Jewish cemetery and that all of the human remains had been removed.  Initially, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said he backed a proposal to convert part of the new complex into a Jewish museum or cultural center; the government was still considering other proposals aimed at commemorating the legacy of the Snipiskes Jewish cemetery at year’s end.

The government again disbursed 3.62 million euros ($4.15 million) to the Good Will Foundation, in accordance with its agreement with that institution.

The government provided 1.2 million euros ($1.38 million) to traditional religious groups to reconstruct religious buildings and to support other religious community activities.  Of this total, it granted one million euros ($1.15 million) to the Roman Catholic Church (some of which was to assist with preparations for the visit of Pope Francis in September) and 61,100 euros ($70,100) to the Russian Orthodox community.  The remaining 139,000 euros ($159,000) was divided among the Old Believer, Evangelical Lutheran, Evangelical Reformed, Sunni Muslim, Karaite and other Jewish, and Greek Catholic communities.

On March 15, parliament removed Vigilijus Sadauskas from the government-appointed position of ombudsman for academic ethics and procedures amid allegations of anti-Semitism.  Sadauskas, affiliated with Gedimino Technical University, had offered a reward to students who submitted a research thesis about Jewish crimes in the 20th century.

The OEO ombudsperson received five complaints of discrimination based on religion.  Two concerned public schools holding graduation ceremonies at Catholic churches.  Another concerned the content of the mission statement of a kindergarten operated by a religious community.  A fourth involved the establishment of the position of police chaplain, a move that the petitioner stated favored Christianity.  The OEO ombudsperson found these four complaints fell outside of the jurisdiction of the OEO office.  The fifth complaint was from a prisoner who charged authorities did not allow him to participate in Christmas Mass.  The ombudsperson ruled the incident did not constitute religious discrimination.

The government and civil society organizations continued to work together to promote Holocaust education and tolerance in schools.  In July the Ministry of Culture sponsored a summer camp in Cekiskes to teach high school students about Jewish history and the preservation of Jewish culture.  The program included tours, lectures, concerts, exhibitions, and conferences in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Kedainiai and other cities.  On August 24, Prime Minister Skvernelis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a ceremony at the Paneriai Memorial, which is located less than 11 miles from central Vilnius and marks the site where the Gestapo, the SS security service, and the Vilnius Special Squad executed approximately 70,000 Jews between July 1941 and 1944.  Prime Minister Skvernelis referred to the Holocaust as the “worst episode” in the country’s history and said the government was responsible for ensuring that this chapter not be hidden from the world.  InSeptember the nongovernmental organization Lithuanian Human Rights Center, in cooperation with local municipalities, installed eight new memorials known as “stumbling stones” to commemorate Holocaust victims in Alytus, Ukmerge, Plunge, and Kuliai.

On September 19, Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius called on authorities to remove a memorial plaque located on the side of the library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences in central Vilnius honoring Jonas Noreika, a Lithuanian military officer known as Generolas Vetra (General Storm).  Faina Kukliansky, head of the LJC, also called for the removal of the plaque.  The appeals came after The New York Times published an article in early September citing a descendant of Vetra, who said Vetra had been complicit in the killing of Jews during the Holocaust.  By year’s end, the library had not removed the plaque.

Government officials continued to participate in ceremonies to commemorate the Holocaust.  On January 26, Minister of Foreign Affairs Linkevicius delivered a speech on International Holocaust Remembrance Day; he referred to the role of Lithuanian collaborators during the Holocaust as a “scar” on Lithuania’s history.  On May 4, Prime Minister Skvernelis, Speaker of Parliament Viktoras Pranckietis, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Linkevicius attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a new museum in Seduva commemorating the country’s extinct Jewish shtetl communities.  Minister of Foreign Affairs Linkevicius, the President’s Advisor on Foreign Policy, the Israeli ambassador, and the LJC participated in the annual March of the Living on May 23, to memorialize the killing of 70,000 Jews in Ponary, on the outskirts of Vilnius, during the Nazi occupation.

On September 21, government and nongovernmental bodies organized events to mark the country’s 75th Holocaust Memorial Day.  Minister of Foreign Affairs Linkevicius, Vice Chancellor Deividas Matulionis, Mayor of Vilnius Remigijus Simasius, MPs, Catholic Archbishop of Vilnius Gintaras Grusas, the LJC, and foreign dignitaries attended the unveiling of a memorial stone in Vilnius to honor the country’s Righteous Among the Nations – individuals recognized by Israel as risking their lives to help Jews during the Holocaust.  In opening remarks, Minister of Foreign Affairs Linkevicius said, “Jews were killed by the Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators.  We can never forget this.  But when there are tragic events and trials, there are also people to whom truth and justice is more important than their own lives.”  On September 22, President Dalia Grybauskaite stated, “In a country brutalized by both Nazi and Stalinist crimes, many people stood up to rescue Jews because they saw humanity as the ultimate good.”

On September 23, the anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilnius ghetto, Speaker of Parliament Pranckietis, Minister of Culture Lijana Ruokyte-Jonsson, Mayor of Vilnius Simasius, the LJC, and Litvak (Lithuanian Jewish) organizations from Israel and Poland attended a 75th Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony at the Paneriai Memorial.  In his remarks, Speaker Pranckietis said, “Today we [Lithuanians] suffer repentance for the grievance caused to the Jewish nation.”

The government is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

Authorities did not maintain statistics on religiously motivated incidents.

On February 16, nationalists held a march in Vilnius to commemorate the anniversary of the restoration of the country’s independence.  The march attracted approximately 300 participants, compared with 150 in the previous year; some of the participants held torches and carried national flags.  The march included a banner with a picture of, and a quote by WWII-era anti-Semite Kazys Skirpa.  Nationalists also organized a march in Vilnius on March 11, the country’s Independence Day, involving approximately 1,000 persons, compared with 500 in the previous year.  According to local observers, some of the participants displayed fascist or neo-Nazi symbols such as a skull and crossbones flag, and carried a banner with the images of Lithuanian partisans who many believe were Nazi collaborators, such as Skirpa and Jonas Noreika.

A Lithuanian writer who cowrote a controversial 2016 book on Lithuanian participation in the Holocaust told an Israeli newspaper she had received threats to her safety, which she attributed in part to her book.

Anonymous anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim comments on the internet were common, for example on Lithuanian media portal Delfi.  Examples of anti-Semitism in this forum included statements that Jews who collaborated with the KGB should be condemned by the LJC or statements justifying the Holocaust because “Jews collaborated with the Soviet Union and killed Lithuanian partisans.”  Most anti-Muslim examples included equating Muslims with terrorists.  Main media portals generally removed such comments promptly after becoming aware of them.

On September 23, more than 50 people gathered for a ceremony at the site marking the former Vilnius ghetto to place stones made of lava and ash into a metal structure in the shape of the Star of David.  During the ceremony Mayor Simasius said, “Our duty is to mark this day, to remember and say deep in our heart, ‘never again.’”

Also on September 23, Pope Francis visited the country and prayed at the site of the former Vilnius ghetto.  At a Mass in Kaunas, he warned against any rebirth of “pernicious” anti-Semitism and honored Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy and Engagement

The U.S. embassy continued to maintain a regular dialogue with senior government officials on the importance of religious freedom. Embassy representatives met with a vice chancellor and officials at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture, as well as MPs and continued to engage them on ways to promote tolerance and integration of religious minorities, including Muslim refugees, into society and combat anti-Semitism. Embassy representatives urged the government to address the remaining issues regarding compensation for Jewish private property seized during the Nazi and Soviet eras. U.S. officials, including the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues in a visit in October, discussed Holocaust education, remembrance, and property restitution at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government offices and with MPs.

The Ambassador and embassy staff met regularly with the Jewish community to discuss issues of concern, including property restitution, preservation and restoration of heritage sites, combating intolerance, and Holocaust remembrance. On January 3, the Ambassador visited restored Jewish synagogues in Alanta and Pakruojis and met with the Jewish communities in Panevezys and Siauliai to discuss the country’s progress on Jewish heritage preservation, commemoration events, and religious life. On January 17, the Ambassador met with the American Jewish Committee to discuss its views on issues of concern to Jews in the country.

On May 4, the Ambassador attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a new museum in Seduva to commemorate the country’s extinct Jewish shtetl communities. She delivered remarks citing the government for acknowledging and celebrating the life and contributions of Jews in the development of Lithuanian society, history, and culture and the government’s actions to acknowledge and celebrate those contributions.

On July 12, the embassy collaborated with the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum to organize a public screening of the film The Good Nazi, the story of a German engineer who joined the Nazi Party in 1931 but later saved approximately 200 Jews in Vilnius. The screening was followed by a discussion with the executive producer about the role of individuals who helped save Jews during WWII.

In September the Ambassador delivered remarks at the Symposium for Diplomats Who Saved Jewish Lives, to honor the work of diplomats that helped saved Jews during WWII.

On September 23, the Ambassador presented a wreath on behalf of the diplomatic corps at the Paneriai memorial in honor of the 75th Holocaust Memorial Day. The Ambassador also participated in a ceremony at the site marking the former Vilnius Jewish ghetto to place stones made of lava and ash into a metal structure in the shape of the Star of David.

Document data: 21.06.2019. Link: Also available in Lithuanian:

Fundamental Rights Report 2019 (excerpts), 2019

4 Racism, xenophobia and related intolerance


4.2. Lack of policy responses to racism, ethnic discrimination and hate crime


Table 4.1: EU Member States with dedicated action plans and strategies against racism, xenophobia and ethnic discrimination in place in 2018

Country codeName of strategy or action plan in EnglishPeriod covered
LTThe Action Plan for Promotion of Non-discrimination 2017-2019


FRA activity [.] Assisting national authorities with hate-crime recording


Upon request from the Member States, FRA, together with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), offers technical assistance to national authorities to improve their ability to record and collect hate crime data and thus provide better support to victims, through national workshops. Between December 2017 and the end of 2018, such workshops took place in Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia, and more are already scheduled for 2019.


5 Roma integration


5.4. National developments


5.4.2. Positive initiatives


Promising practice[.] Remembering the Roma holocaust


In Lithuania, youth leaders were trained in organising Roma holocaust educational activities using the handbook Right to remember, which was published in November 2018.***

*** Lithuania, Youth Department of the Council of Europe, Training workshop on education with young people in Lithuania about the Roma Genocide

Document data: June 2019; ISBN 978-92-9474-591-0 Link:

CERD Concluding observations on Lithuania (excerpts on media), 2019


C.Concerns and recommendations


Hate speech and incitement to hatred

11.The Committee is concerned about the strong prejudices and negative sentiments prevailing in the State party towards members of vulnerable and minority groups, in particular migrants, Muslims and Roma. It is also concerned that hate speech and incitement to hatred targeting these groups, as well as anti-Semitic speech, have been used in the media, including online media, and in the political sphere (arts. 2, 4 and 7).

12. Recalling its general recommendation No. 35 (2013) on combating racist hate speech, the Committee recommends that the State party intensify its public campaigns to combat hate speech, incitement to hatred and hate crimes, to address prejudice and negative sentiments towards national minorities and migrants and to promote tolerance and understanding towards these groups, in cooperation with civil society and representatives of the most affected communities. The Committee also recommends that the State strengthen the training of journalists on how to avoid the use of hate speech and stereotypes towards communities, with the involvement of the Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics.

Prosecution of racially motivated crimes

13.The Committee is concerned about the low level of reporting of hate speech and hate crimes in the State party and about the fact that these crimes are not always registered and investigated as such. It is also concerned about the lack of available data on pretrial investigations for hate speech and incitement to hatred involving politicians or the media. The Committee is further concerned that the data on cases relating to discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes, particularly cases relating to articles 169, 170, 171, 312, 129, 135 and 138 of the Criminal Code, are not disaggregated by prohibited grounds, hence limiting knowledge about the prevalence of these crimes in various spheres.In addition, the Committee notes with concern that, while efforts to train law enforcement and judicial officers have been made in the past few years, the number of professionals trained remains low (arts. 4 and 6).

14. Recalling its general recommendation No. 35, the Committee recommends that the State party: [..]

(c) Collect statistics on investigated cases of hate crime and incitement to hatred emanating from politicians and from the media, including on the Internet ;


Situation of Roma


18. Recalling its general recommendation No. 27 (2000) on discrimination against Roma, the Committee recommends that the State party intensify its efforts towards the integration of Roma into society within the framework of the Action Plan for the Integration of Roma into Lithuanian Society 2015–2020. In particular, the Committee recommends that the State party guarantee that sufficient funding and human resources are allocated to the strategy and that it ensure a higher participation of the Roma community, in particular Roma women, in its implementation. Moreover, the Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Actively combat discrimination against Roma in all spheres, in particular employment and housing, and ensure that Roma victims of discrimination have access to adequate remedies. With a view to combating stereotypes and prejudices towards Roma people, the Committee recommends that the State party provide training on Roma issues to law enforcement and judicial officers and to journalists. The Committee also recommends that the State party conduct awareness-raising campaigns to promote Roma culture and combat stereotypes and prejudices against Roma people ;


Document data: CERD/C/LTU/CO/9-10 adopted 09.05.2019, published 07.06.2019 Link: (also available in the other UN official languages)

CERD Concluding observations on Lithuania (excerpts on Roma), 2019

B.Positive aspects

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


(e)The adoption of the Programme for the Integration of the Roma Community living in Vilnius City Municipality into Society 2016–2019, on 19 April 2016.


C.Concerns and recommendations


Hate speech and incitement to hatred

11.The Committee is concerned about the strong prejudices and negative sentiments prevailing in the State party towards members of vulnerable and minority groups, in particular migrants, Muslims and Roma. It is also concerned that hate speech and incitement to hatred targeting these groups, as well as anti-Semitic speech, have been used in the media, including online media, and in the political sphere (arts. 2, 4 and 7).


Situation of Roma

17.While welcoming the adoption of the Action Plan for the Integration of Roma into Lithuanian Society 2015–2020 and noting several improvements in the socioeconomic situation of Roma, notably with regard to school attendance and housing, the Committee is concerned that Roma continue to suffer from social exclusion and are disproportionately affected by poverty. It is also concerned about (a) the persistently low proportion of Roma children and young people completing basic education and attending tertiary education; (b) the high unemployment rate among Roma, particularly Roma women; (c) the high proportion of Roma living in inadequate housing conditions, despite the successful efforts to resettle Roma families from the Kirtimai settlement; and (d) the lower than average rate of Roma covered by compulsory health insurance and their generally low access to health care. Moreover, the Committee notes with concern that infringements of the economic, social and cultural rights of Roma are exacerbated by stereotypes, prejudice and intolerance, leading to discrimination in the fields of employment, housing, health care and education (arts. 2, 5 and 7).

18. Recalling its general recommendation No. 27 (2000) on discrimination against Roma, the Committee recommends that the State party intensify its efforts towards the integration of Roma into society within the framework of the Action Plan for the Integration of Roma into Lithuanian Society 2015–2020. In particular, the Committee recommends that the State party guarantee that sufficient funding and human resources are allocated to the strategy and that it ensure a higher participation of the Roma community, in particular Roma women, in its implementation. Moreover, the Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Actively combat discrimination against Roma in all spheres, in particular employment and housing, and ensure that Roma victims of discrimination have access to adequate remedies. With a view to combating stereotypes and prejudices towards Roma people, the Committee recommends that the State party provide training on Roma issues to law enforcement and judicial officers and to journalists. The Committee also recommends that the State party conduct awareness-raising campaigns to promote Roma culture and combat stereotypes and prejudices against Roma people ;

(b) Pursue its efforts to promote the enrolment of Roma children in preschool education and to support Roma children and young people in their completion of compulsory education and in their access to tertiary education, including with language and social skills support. It also recommends that the State party provide young Roma boys and girls with vocational training opportunities adapted to the needs of the employment market. In addition, the Committee recommends that the State party conduct awareness-raising campaigns on the importance of education targeted at Roma children and young people and their families ;

(c) Continue its efforts to facilitate the access of Roma to adequate housing, including access to social housing and subsidies for home rental, and complete the resettlement of the Roma households that have been living in the Kirtimai settlement. It also recommends that the State party strengthen coordination mechanisms in order to ensure that no house is demolished unless alternative housing or monetary compensation has been provided to the inhabitants;

(d) Increase its efforts to ensure that Roma, particularly Roma women, have access to adequate health care, including by conducting targeted awareness-raising campaigns with information about available health services and the requirements for compulsory health insurance coverage.


D.Other recommendations


Paragraphs of particular importance

35. The Committee wishes to draw the attention of the State party to the particular importance of the recommendations contained in paragraphs 14 (racially motivated crimes), 18 (situation of Roma) and 26 (statelessness) above and requests the State party to provide detailed information in its next periodic report on the concrete measures taken to implement those recommendations.


Document data: CERD/C/LTU/CO/9-10 adopted 09.05.2019, published 07.06.2019 Link: (also available in the other UN official languages)