The UN Human Rights Committee Calls on Lithuania for More Answers, More Action
Geneva 11 July 2012. The United Nations Human Rights Committee finalized the examination of the 3rd periodic report of Lithuania, which took place on 10 and 11 July 2012 in Geneva. Today, the Human Rights Committee acknowledged the productive and open dialogue exchanged with the State delegation of Lithuania throughout the review, but also expressed that some important questions and concerns remain. While the discussion covered a wide range of human rights related topics, it focused in depth on several key issues. These included: LGBT rights, the prevention and regulation of hate speech, freedom of expression and assembly, pre-trial detention, and secret detention sites.
The State delegation admitted that crimes of hate speech against the LGBT community in Lithuania have increased over the last several years. Currently, up to 80% of crimes of hate speech perpetrated online are targeted at the LGBT community. As such, protections based on gender identity should be included in all relevant non-discrimination and hate crime legislation. Specifically, the Committee pressed the State delegation to clarify and adopt legislation to allow transsexuals to fully complete the process of gender-reassignment. This should include surgery, as well as name and personal code changes. The Committee also repeatedly criticized legislation restricting the promotion of information the State considers detrimental to minors, specifically referring to information deemed by the State to be ‘in conflict with family values.’ The Committee suggested this legislation goes too far, and may be fueling discrimination against members of the LGBT community in Lithuania.
The Committee expressed grave concern about past demonstrations led by neo-Nazis, who openly displayed swastikas. Though the State referenced the freedom of assembly and insisted these images were merely 13thcentury medieval symbols, the Committee remained staunch in its disapproval of State-permitted demonstrations such as these. It reminded the delegation that the freedom of assembly and expression are not absolute rights, and must be managed by the State when they are in violation of human rights.
The Human Rights Committee questioned State policies on pre-trial detention, including whether said detention may be extended at the discretion of the prosecutor, and without the authorization of a judiciary. It criticized the State for its overwhelming reliance on pre-trial detention as a primary means of ensuring unhindered criminal proceedings, as opposed to utilizing more lenient measures such as bail or house arrest. Pre-trial detention is considered the strictest of these measures, and according to the Code of Criminal Procedure is to be used only as a last resort.
The Committee also expressed concerns about conflicting information surrounding State-affiliated secret detention sites. The Council of Europe, UN Special Rapporteurs, as well as such respected NGO’s as Amnesty International, have stated that rendition has, in fact, taken place through the State party. The State delegation of Lithuania, however, insists that it conducted a number of investigations and concluded there was insufficient evidence to proceed. On more than one occasion, the Committee urged the delegation to reopen these investigations to reconcile these discrepancies, but the State has summarily declined.The Human Rights Committee will make its recommendations public at the end of its session, on 27 July 2012.
The broadcast of the review of Lithuania can be seen on the website of the Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR Centre) and at treatybodywebcast.org.
For additional information on the review of Lithuania contact:
Lithuanian Gay League (LGL): www.lgl.lt / email@example.com
Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR): www.ccprcentre.org / firstname.lastname@example.org