“I got scared – if I refuse to work with Taliban, they will kill me. I was told that Lithuania helps people.”
– Q.N., applicant in the case
Proceedings initiated: 2013
Proceedings closed: 2015
Case in brief: minors asylum-seekers from Afghanistan were unlawfully detained in Lithuania and convicted for illegal border crossing
Outcome of the case: pre-trial detention and conviction of minors were contrary to Lithuanian and international law, which provides a special protection for asylum-seekers; applicants in the case received a compensation
Facts of the case:
Two citizens of Afghanistan, who claimed they were only 14 and 17 years old at the time, were apprehended by the officers of the State Border Guard Service on 4 April 2013 in the Ignalina district after they had crossed the Lithuanian border.
These young people were fleeing war-torn Afghanistan to apply for asylum in Lithuania. A pre-trial investigation was launched and both minors were ordered to be detained, spending three months locked up in the Lukiškės Remand Prison together with adult men – enduring humiliation, insults and a number of other human rights violations.
Finally, they were found guilty for illegal border crossing and ordered to pay fine exceeding 16.000 EUR. However, in 2013 Ignalina District Court found that they were convicted unlawfully since their sole purpose of crossing the border was to request asylum in Lithuania.
Q.N., applicant in the case
On 26 November 2013, Human Rights Monitoring Institute and the Lithuanian Red Cross Society submitted a complaint to the Vilnius District Court on behalf of the applicants requesting for compensation of damages caused by unlawful conviction and unlawful detention.
The Vilnius District Court, in its judgment held that Lithuania was liable to compensate the Afghans for the loss suffered. After the appeal by the Prosecution Office and by the Ministry of Justice, the Vilnius Regional Court ruled that there were not enough evidence to prove that Afgani asylum seekers were minors, therefore they should have been treated as adults. Furthermore, the court held that since the asylum seekers were finally acquited for the illegal border crossing, they were not entitled to damages for unlawful conviction.
Finally, on 14 July 2015, the Lithuania Supreme Court found for the applicants in its final judgment. The Court agreed that their detention and conviction violated national and international law, and ordered the state to pay more than 6.000 EUR in damages.