ECHR complaint on conditions in Lithuanian Foreigners’ Registration Centre

June 26, 2023

An Iraqi asylum seeker has lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the conditions of detention during the period spent in Kybartai Foreigners’ Registration Centre. The person was detained by Lithuanian border guards at the Lithuanian-Belarusian border in July 2021 and then transferred to multiple different Registration centres until in September 2021 he ended up at the Foreigners’ Registration Centre (FRC) in Kybartai, located in the former Kybartai Correctional Centre. The petitioner’s complaint concerns living conditions in the Kybartai FRC, deprivation of liberty without clear justification or assessment of his individual circumstances. He also stated that there was no practical possibility to lodge complaints or obtain legal assistance of such deprivation of liberty, as the legal assistance provided by the State was ineffective.

The applicant submits that the Kybartai FRC was not properly adapted for asylum seekers. He also mentions that the first formal decision on his de facto detention was served to him only in February 2022. According to the applicant, his phone had been confiscated and it was impossible to contact his state-appointed lawyer. The lawyer also did not meet him in person or respond to his messages to assess his individual needs. In his petition, the applicant raises issues of violation of Articles 3 and 5 of the Convention, which deal with the prohibition of torture and the right to liberty and security.

The questions referred by the Court to the parties concern possible violations of the Convention, including whether the conditions in the Kybartai FRC amounted to degrading and inhuman treatment, and whether the applicant had been provided with an effective remedy to address his complaints. The Court also asks, whether the applicable living conditions for this asylum seeker from July 2021 to June 2022 and subsequent periods, amounted to deprivation of liberty. The Court also raises the further question of whether such deprivation of liberty complied with the requirements of Article 5(1) of the Convention: whether it was possible to have the lawfulness of the deprivation of liberty reviewed by a court, and whether the applicant had effective access to free legal aid.

Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania on January 24, 2022, published a report following a visit to the Kybartai FRC, in which it stated that conditions in some sectors of the centre amounted to degrading treatment, while in other sectors of the centre there were conditions conducive to the occurrence of such treatment. The report also concludes that the nature of the actual deprivation of liberty in the Kybartai FRC amounted to detention. The report also mentions that the centre did not adequately guarantee the right of foreigners to state-guaranteed legal aid and did not provide adequate information on the availability of such aid.

Information produced as part of the “Crossing the Border” project. The project “Crossing the Border – Monitoring and Advocating for the Rights of Migrants and Asylum Seekers” is part of the Active Citizens Fund, funded by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism.

Photo: Larry Farr I Unsplash