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Human Rights in Lithuania 2016-2017

Human Rights Monitoring Institute presents overview “Human Rights in Lithuania 2016-2017.” It is our 9th overview which is the only periodic assessment of the human rights situation in Lithuania conducted by 17 independent experts from various fields.

 


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Public opinion poll (2016)

On October 19-26 the public opinion poll on the prevailing attitudes in society towards the human rights situation in Lithuania was  carried out by “Spinter tyrimai”, a market research company. The poll, commissioned by the Human Rights Monitoring Institute, is primarily aimed at determining the general public’s knowledge level about human rights and ways to defend them, as well as the extent of confidence in the mechanisms for protection of these rights.

Results of 2016 poll: 

According to Lithuanians, the most-violated right in 2016 was the right to fair trial. This follows the trend of 2012 and 2014. The right to privacy was the second-most violated right, while the right to participate in political life had the least amount of violations associated with it.

Sufficient info

There was a slight increase in the number of people claiming that they have enough information on human rights, with as much as 63% indicating so in this year’s survey, compared to 52% in 2012 and 60% in 2014.

Those claiming that there was enough information on human rights were most likely to be 18-45 years old, having attained the highest level of education, belonging to the highest income bracket and living in urban areas.

The number of people knowing where to go in the event of a rights violation has also been growing steadily. In 2016, more than half (57%) of respondents claimed that they knew which institution to go to when their rights are violated, compare to 54% in 2014, 52% in 2012 and 49% in 2010.

Rarely defend their rights

Going by the results of the survey, one in five Lithuanians has had his or her rights violated. Nevertheless, only 7% of all respondents claiming that their rights had been violated took steps to remedy the issue.

As was the case in previous years, the main reason for the reluctance to defend one’s rights is the lack of trust in institutions that are meant to remedy breaches. As much as three fourths of those that claimed a rights violation but failed to do anything about it said that they didn’t believe that going to an institution would help.

The survey revealed that when people did go to an institution when their rights were violated, they most often went to the police or the prosecutor’s office (36%), followed by NGOs and the courts.

Mentally disabled face greatest discrimination

Respondents were also asked to opine which social group faced the most discrimination in Lithuania. The situation remains unchanged for the sixth year running, with the mentally disabled being named the most discriminated social group. They got 5.68 points (compared to 5.03 points in 2014), with the elderly coming in second (5.40) and persons with physical disabilities settling on third place (5.21).

This year, the survey also included refugees as a possible social group. Their vulnerability was rated fairly highly, scoring a little over 5 points (5.02). Those aged 26-35 and urban residents were more likely to claim that refugees were discriminated against.

 


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Public opinion poll (2014)

Starting in 2004, Human Rights Monitoring Institute began assessing the prevailing attitudes in society towards the human rights situation in Lithuania. For this purpose HRMI, in cooperation with the Market and Opinion Research Centre “Vilmorus Ltd.”, carries out a biennial public opinion poll on human rights related questions.

The opinion polls are primarily aimed at determining the general public’s knowledge level about human rights and ways to defend them, as well as the extent of confidence in the mechanisms for protection of these rights.

The poll’s questions cover civil and political rights with an added emphasis on the public’s awareness of instances of discrimination and violations of privacy: the poll participants are asked to indicate the most discriminated societal groups and to determine whether a violation of privacy occurred in given example scenarios.

The findings indicate that the absolute majority (95 percent) of Lithuanian residents who thought that their rights had been infringed did not report said infringement to any institution. However, by contrast, a fifth or more of the respondents have indicated a willingness to defend their rights in previous years (over 18 percent in 2012 and over 22 percent in 2010).

For more statistics see the executive summary (English) of the findings or the read the full findings (Lithuanian only).


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Public opinion poll (2012)

Starting in 2004, Human Rights Monitoring Institute began assessing the prevailing attitudes in society towards the human rights situation in Lithuania. For this purpose HRMI, in cooperation with the Market and Opinion Research Centre “Vilmorus Ltd.”, carries out a biennial public opinion poll on human rights related questions.

The opinion polls are primarily aimed at determining the general public’s knowledge level about human rights and ways to defend them, as well as the extent of confidence in the mechanisms for protection of these rights.

The poll’s questions cover civil and political rights with an added emphasis on the public’s awareness of instances of discrimination and violations of privacy: the poll participants are asked to indicate the most discriminated societal groups and to determine whether a violation of privacy occurred in given example scenarios.

The 2012 poll indicates that certain trends are quite stable. First, the level of action to defend rights remains very low – only 1 in 5 respondents who considered their rights violated sought help. Second, the level of confidence in the effectiveness of human rights defence mechanisms has not increased as well – 4 out of 5 respondents who refrained from seeking help did not believe they would have received effective assistance, allowing them to defend their rights.

Full results (in Lithuanian)


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A.A. case – a right to legal aid

Proceedings initiated: 2010

Proceedings closed: 2011

Case in brief: the applicant, whose monthly income amounted to 40 EUR, was refused legal aid

Outcome of the case: the court ordered to provide the applicant with the legal aid


Facts of the case:

A.A. – a disabled woman who after her release from prison continued paying the damages awarded by the court. For that purpose, 85 per cent of her disability allowance was deducted, leaving her to survive with 40 EUR/month. A.A., intending to go to court for the review of the damages policy, filed a request for legal aid with Panevezys Office of the State-Guaranteed Legal Aid.

The Panevezys Office refused to provide her with completely free legal assitance quoting the 19 January 2010 protocol of the Legal Aid chamber. According to the Protocol, “the bailiffs enforcement of debt recovery should not be regarded as an objective reason for the applicant not to be able to dispose the income/funds”.

Legal proceedings:

The Human Rights Monitoring Institute after assessing the strategic significance of the A.A. case  – a direct impact on potentially large number of people and an obvious violation of the right to legal representation –  was advising the applicant during the court proceedings.

A.A. appealed to Panevezys District Administrative Court the decision of Panevezys Legal Aid Office to grant her only partly-paid legal representation. In July 2010, the Court overruled the decision of Panevezys Legal Aid Office and ordered to grant the applicant free legal representation, covering 100 per cent of expences.

The Panevezys Legal Aid Office appealed the ruling to the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania. On 2 May 2011, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania in a final and conclusive ruling dismissed the Panevezys Legal Aid Office appeal. The Court concluded that A.A. proved that due to the objective reasons she could not dispose all her assets and funds and that the remaining amount, by which she could dispose, did not exceeded the assets and income level, regulated by Government, giving it the right to receive a free of charge legal aid.

Documents of the case:

Judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court (in Lithuanian)


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