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REPORT ON ENSURING HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS IN PLACES OF TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATION OF FOREIGNERS HAVING CROSSED THE BORDER OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA WITH THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS

2021 / 10 / 07

After assessing the human rights of foreigners in places of temporary accommodation, the Seimas Ombudsman, Head of the Office Augustinas Normantas submitted a report recommending the Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonyte to pay attention to violations identified in the report and take all measures to ensure that admission of foreigners fully complies with the European and international law, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, signed in 1951. The Human Rights Monitoring Institute also contributed to this report.

In his report, it is noted that the restriction of migrants’ freedom, which lasted for an average of forty days without adequate provision of material reception conditions, hygiene, weather-appropriate clothing, footwear and the right to privacy, equals to inhuman or degrading treatment prohibited under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The same conclusions were reached after assessing the provision of the right to adequate food in places of temporary accommodation of foreigners based in the units of the State Border Guard Service (SBGS).

Attention is drawn to the fact that the implementation of the right of foreigners to the highest available standard of health care in the accommodation places of foreigners is not properly ensured, and the procedures for assessing the vulnerability of foreigners as well as identifying special needs in their temporary accommodation are not clear and uniform. In addition, the special needs, children rights and legitimate interests not of all vulnerable persons are safeguarded; therefore it can be assumed that conditions in places of temporary accommodation of foreigners are inhuman and degrading, which is strictly prohibited under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The report notes that the right of applicants to information about their rights and obligations and the consequences of their non-fulfillment during the examination of an asylum application, as well as the right to information related to the examination of an asylum application, is not properly ensured. Moreover, migrants at the state boarder of Lithuania are pushed-back to Belarus without certainty that they will not be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and that there will be no risk factors to their life or health, which would infringe their right to seek and enjoy asylum in other countries.

It is also noted that during the emergency situation due to the mass influx of foreigners, SBGS officials work in conditions harmful to their health, places of temporary accommodation of foreigners and provision of services required by them was not organized in a coordinated way, the principle of equality of persons was violated and human rights of both foreigners and officials were violated.