A new report on Lithuania reveals that many instances of discrimination and incitement to hatred still go unpunished in the country.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) monitors are also concerned that “prominent political figures have made statements showing little sensitivity towards the need to fight racism and intolerance. It is almost impossible for NGOs to represent victims of discrimination in court.”
Today’s report welcomes the 2009 amendment to the Criminal Code which has helped combat racism more effectively. The Law on Citizenship no longer raises issues of discrimination on grounds of ethnic or national origin. The anti-discrimination unit also recognises that the Law on Equal Treatment now protects against discrimination also on grounds of national origin and language.
However, according to the report, “there is little coordination between the different minority/anti-discrimination and Roma integration programmes. The latter have produced few tangible results. The newly established department of minorities is understaffed and its budget has been greatly reduced. There does not seem to be any systematic collection of data on racist motivation and the application of anti-discrimination legislation.”
The ECRI monitors are also concerned by evidence of anti-semitism in Lithuania. The report states: “Several antisemitic articles have appeared in the press and on the internet, also in reaction to the draft law on Jewish property restitution. As regards the restitution of private property expropriated during WWII, various laws adopted successively as of 1991 have restricted the eligibility of Jewish persons who had ‘repatriated.’”
In its report, ECRI recommends that the authorities set-up an inter-institutional body to coordinate the implementation of Roma integration programmes. They should also continue training police officers, lawyers, judges and prosecutors on the provisions against racism and racial discrimination and make access to social security legal changes.
ECRI report on Lithuania