During the 52nd session (28 Apr 2014 – 23 May 2014), the UN Committee against Torture will review Lithuania’s third periodic report. On this occasion, Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) has submitted an alternative report, which will assist the Committee in assessing Lithuania’s progress.
HRMI has identified severe overuse of pre-trial detention and ineffectiveness of the parole system as two of the most pressing issues in the area of criminal justice, while also noting that the long-awaited prison reform has not yet taken place.
The situation of refugees and asylum seekers is also troubling. Although the Lithuanian legislation provides that asylum seekers are exempt from detention, even in cases when they enter or stay illegally in the country, the practice does not follow this rule. A monitoring visit conducted by the HRMI staff revealed appalling conditions, including disregard of freedom of religion, in the Foreigners’ Registration Centre.
Due to the lack of legal safeguards and specialized services, victims of crime, including child victims and victims of domestic violence, often find themselves in situations amounting to torture and degrading treatment. Victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation also suffer from secondary victimization and stigmatization. “Perpetrators, benefitting from human trafficking, are depicted [in the media] as ‘helping the prostitutes to earn a living’, while crime victims – females involved in prostitution – are portrayed as having only themselves to blame“, the report reads.
In its submission, HRMI stressed that significant developments had taken place since the review of Lithuania’s second periodic report, the most notable being the adoption of the Law against Domestic Violence, which for the first time recognized domestic violence as a violation of human rights and a crime subject to prosecution. Nevertheless, acknowledging the progress in the area of combating domestic violence, setbacks in the implementation of certain obligations Lithuania has under the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment should be remedied.
Another alternative report, produced in cooperation with REDRESS, Amnesty International, Reprieve, and Interights, was dedicated to the analysis of the investigation of Lithuania’s complicity in CIA Rendition Program.