Lithuania

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Persistent violations
  • Violence against children, particularly domestic violence[1]
  • Corporal punishment[2]
  • Trafficking of children[3]
  • Inequality and discrimination affecting children from Roma backgrounds, particularly with regards to education[4]
  • Discrimination against LGBT children and restrictions on related freedom of expression[5]
  • Inadequate sexual and reproductive health care and education[6]
  • Inappropriate treatment of asylum-seeking and refugee children[7]
  • Inappropriate use of pre-trial detention[8]
  • Overuse of institutional care[9]
  • Inadequate measures to protect the rights and interests of child victims and witnesses of crimes[10]
  • Sexual abuse and exploitation of children[11]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee against Torture, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee against Torture, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Human Rights Committee, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child< UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee against Torture
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee against Torture
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  11. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review



Introduction

The largest of the three Baltic States, Lithuania borders Latvia, Belarus, Poland and the Russian exclave of the Kaliningrad Oblast. Since regaining independence in 1990, Lithuania has developed into a parliamentary republic with a directly elected President with limited powers as head of state and a nationally elected parliamentary body called the Seimas, who between them appoint a prime minister as head of government. Issues with national minorities, inhuman forms of punishment and imprisonment and the prevalence of domestic violence are all of concern to human rights bodies.


Geography

The Republic of Lithuania was established in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. It is a country of moderate lowlands and highlands that shares borders with Latvia, Belarus, Poland and Russia. The country's capital is Vilnius.

Population and language

The country is home to 3.3 million people. Ethnic Lithuanians make up 83.9 per cent of the country’s population and there are sizeable Polish (6.6 per cent) and Russian (5.44 per cent) ethnic minorities. The official language of the country is Lithuanian[1].

History and politics

Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare independence from the Soviet Union in 1990 - a year before the Union collapsed. Soviet authorities tried to suppress the independence movement by imposing an economic blockade as well as taking military action. On the night of 13 January 1991 Soviet troops attacked the Vilnius TV Tower killing 14 Lithuanian civilians and leaving 1,000 injured.

Lithuania is a parliamentary republic with semi-presidential features. Dalia Grybauskaitė has served as the current President since she was elected on 17 May 2009. She is the first female President in the country's history. Lithuania has a multi-party system, and there are currently nine parties represented in the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas). The current centre-right governments headed by Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, leader of the conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats group[2].

Lithuania is a member of NATO, the Council of Europe, and a full member of the Schengen Agreement. Lithuania is also a member of the European Union and will assume the Presidency of the EU in 2013.

Economy

Having moved away from a central planning system, Lithuania has embraced market reform since independence. In the run up to and period following EU entry the republic saw very strong economic growth.

Lithuania's boom years came to a sudden end in 2008, and after two decades of capitalism, the country became one of the biggest victims of the global economic crisis.[3]

The chemical industry remains one of Lithuania's most profitable sectors. Other segments of the industry are pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and soap, glues, oils and resinoids. EU countries make up 61 per cent of Lithuania’s total export market. Its main trade partners are Russia, Germany, Poland and Latvia[3].

Media and civil society

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) rated the state of press freedom in Lithuania as “good” and ranked the country 31st out of 179 in its 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index. RWB has raised some concerns in recent years, however, particularly in response to the confiscation of all 15,000 copies of an issue of the Lithuanian weekly Laisvas Laikrastis (Free Newspaper) for “revealing state secrets”[4].

Human rights and children's rights

Torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are widespread in Lithuania's prisons. Detention conditions, degrade human dignity as evidenced by several cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights. In addition, in spite of the deepening intolerance that pervades society, no monitoring body has been established to deal with hate crimes. The policy of integration of national minorities is one of the most neglected areas of the political agenda[5].

The Committee on the Rights of the Child has welcomed substantial reforms to children's rights legislation, such as the establishment of an Ombudsman for the Protection of the Rights of the Child. There are, however, a number of areas in which various UN bodies have been critical. Roma children still face significant barriers to accessing education; dropout rates among these children are higher than among any other minority, and educational achievement is lower[6]. A culture of violence prevails in all social strata and is closely related to the disappearances of children: four out of five runaway children are fleeing domestic violence; they are also more at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking[7].

  1. Lithuanian Statistics Department, "Statistical Yearbook of Lithuania 2011"
  2. BBC, "Lithuania Country Profile"
  3. Lithuanian Statistics Department, "Statistical Yearbook of Lithuania 2011"
  4. Reporters Without Borders, "Lithuania Profile"
  5. Lithuanian Human Rights Monitoring Institute, “Human Rights in Lithuania 2009-2010: Overview”
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations to Lithuania, October 2008
  7. Lithuanian Human Rights Monitoring Institute, “Human Rights in Lithuania 2009-2010: Overview”

Sources:


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