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Are Lithuanian NGOs Tantamount to Lobbyists?

2015 / 05 / 27

The Lithuanian Parliament recently revealed the new draft Law on Lobbying Activities. Allegedly, it seeks to prevent unlawful lobbying and undue influence based on private interests. However, the law also attempts to regulate NGO activities as lobbying – it would also apply to employees of non-profit organizations. Lobbying is defined as acts that seek to influence politicians, officials or civil servants to pass or reject legislation. After the passage of said law, only registered lobbyists who have signed a pledge to the Chief Official Ethics Commission would be allowed to lobby.

On 27 May the Human Rights Monitoring Institute together with the NGO Law Institute submitted their observations and proposals to the national parliament arguing that the draft law disproportionally restricts freedom of association and expression of NGOs and hence violates Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Also, additional administrative burden may effectively impede development of the organized civil society in Lithuania. Both organizations proposed to exclude NGO advocacy activities from the material scope of the law.