Migration and asylum – strategic litigation programme

October 19, 2022

Migrant and refugee crisis that started in the summer of 2021 at the Lithuanian – Belarussian state border and was facilitated by the Belarussian regime, caused a number of humanitarian, social and human rights challenges. The Lithuanian government’s response to this crisis has not been balanced enough in terms of human rights and national security, by giving priority to the latter and depicting migrants and asylum seekers in the public rhetoric exceptionally as a threat. The deterrence strategy that was invoked led to extensive restrictions of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, who crossed the border irregularly. Part of the legislation and the institutional practice applied during this crisis does not meet international human rights, refugee law and EU law standards.

With a purpose to address, at least in part, some of the legal issues in the asylum and migration system, that are related with flaws in legislation and institutional practice, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute, in cooperation with attorneys, initiated a programme of strategic litigation in the area of migration and asylum. Apart from the purpose to achieve justice for individual applicants, the programme also seeks a judicial assessment of systemic issues, as well as encourage changes in the legislation and practice in accordance with international standards.

The programme seeks to address the following systemic problems:

  • Access to asylum procedures and the principle of non-refoulement;
  • Lawfulness and reasonableness of detention;
  • Lawfulness and reasonableness of the duration of alternatives to detention;
  • The standards of quality of assessment of asylum applications;
  • The standards of collecting and using the latest information from the countries of origin whilst assessing asylum applications.

The programme also aims, to some extent, to fill the gap in legal aid, which, according to reports of various organisations and institutions, has not been appropriately ensured to the foreigners who entered Lithuania irregularly during this crisis.

The programme encompasses 11 cases (administrative procedures and judicial processes) that are related with representation in asylum procedures, as well as before the national courts and the European Court of Human Rights.

The programme is part of the project „After crossing the border and beyond: monitoring and advocacy for the rights of migrants and asylum seekers“. The project is supported by Open Society Foundations.

Note. Human Rights Monitoring Institute does not usually provide legal aid in individual cases. To access legal aid, please contact an attorney, https://www.advokatura.lt/irasai/advokatu-paieska/ or, in case that the level of your income and owned property is low, please contact the State Guaranteed Legal Aid Office https://vgtpt.lrv.lt/.