1. The Committee considered
the initial report of Lithuania (CCPR/C/81/Add.10) at its 1634th and 1635th
meetings, on 30 October 1997, and subsequently adopted at the 1643rd meeting,
held on 6 November 1997 the following comments:
2. The Committee welcomes
the initial report of Lithuania and subsequent amendments, but regrets
its late submission. The Committee also regrets that while providing detailed
information on prevailing legislation in the field of human rights in
Lithuania, the report does not contain sufficient specific information
on the implementation of the Covenant in practice. However, the Committee
expresses its appreciation for the answers provided by the delegation
to questions raised in the course of the discussion, which demonstrated
the State party's willingness to engage in an open and constructive dialogue
with the Committee and enabled it to obtain a clearer picture of the actual
human rights situation in the country.
B. Factors and difficulties
affecting the implementation of the Covenant
3. The Committee notes that
Lithuania is still in the process of transition to democracy after many
years of authoritarian rule and that there remain outdated legislation
and a number of institutions which may be detrimental to the implementation
of human rights and which will take time to reform.
C. Positive aspects
4. The Committee welcomes
Lithuania's accession to the Covenant and other human rights instruments
soon after the restoration of its independence on 11 March 1990.
5. The Committee expresses
its satisfaction that the new Criminal Code currently being drafted will
contain no death penalty provisions, and welcomes Lithuania's intention
to accede to the Second Optional Protocol in the near future. The fact
that the Clemency Commission, headed by the President of Lithuania, has
in practice suspended executions of persons sentenced to death is also
welcomed by the Committee.
6. The Committee notes with
great interest that Lithuania has undertaken major reforms of the legal
system, including repeal of preventive detention laws, abolition of the
Press Control Board, subjecting administrative detention to court review,
and the enactment of new laws on privacy, on the media and broadcasting,
on freedom of information, on non-refoulement, on child welfare and on
the integration of disabled people. The Committee welcomes new legislation
requiring judicial authorization for pre-trial detention. The Committee
also welcomes the establishment of institutions to deal with human rights
issues, such as the Committee on Human and Civil Rights and Ethnic Minorities
Affairs, the Department of International and Human Rights as well as the
Seimas Ombudsman's Office, which investigates citizens' complaints concerning
abuse of official position by national and local government officials.
In regard to the foregoing:
The Committee requests that
specific information about the operation of these new laws and institutions
be provided in the next periodic report of Lithuania.
7. The Committee welcomes
the information provided by the delegation on programmes for education
in human rights and on action taken to disseminate information about the
Covenant to the people of Lithuania.
8. The Committee welcomes
the recognition by Lithuania of the competence of the Committee to receive
and consider communications under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant.
In this regard:
A specific mechanism should
be established to ensure that the Views expressed by the Committee on
individual communications under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant
are systematically implemented.
D. Subjects of concern and the Committee's recommendations
9. The Committee is concerned
about the unclear legal status of the Covenant within the domestic legal
order and the apparent lack of opportunity for individuals to challenge
the application of laws which affect their rights and freedoms under the
Covenant in the courts. Therefore:
The State party should ensure
that Covenant rights are not restricted by legislation inconsistent with
it and take all necessary steps to allow individuals to challenge the
application of laws which affect their rights and freedoms under the Covenant
in the courts.
10. While welcoming the progress
made in ensuring the equal enjoyment of rights by women, which includes
the initiation of the Action Plan 1998-2000 for the Implementation of
the Programme for Advancement of Women, the Committee is concerned that
women still suffer from discrimination, especially in the area of employment
and in access to leadership positions in politics and society, and that
the proposed law on gender equality has not yet been enacted. Therefore:
Concrete measures should be
taken to eliminate all discrimination against women and to enhance and
reinforce the position of women in society by providing legal remedies
for discrimination in all areas, including employment and commercial advertising.
Mechanisms should be established to monitor non-discrimination laws, to
receive and investigate complaints from victims, and to award compensation
11. While noting the measures
adopted recently to provide assistance to women victims of violence and
forced prostitution and to prosecute persons involved in procuring, the
Committee is extremely concerned about the extent of these problems. It
is also concerned about the problems of child abuse, including sexual
Additional measures should
be taken to prevent, investigate and prosecute cases of violence against
women, including domestic violence, and abuse of children, including sexual
abuse, and to promote the right of women and children to personal security.
Programmes for the rehabilitation of traumatized children and adequate
legal and social procedures and mechanisms to deal with complaints of
both physical and mental ill-treatment need to be developed.
12. The Committee is concerned
at reported cases of harassment and use of excessive force by members
of the army against conscripts and of police brutality against detainees.
An independent investigation
mechanism should be established to inquire into all cases of alleged brutality
committed by members of the police or the army. Intensive training and
education programmes in the field of human rights for members of the army
and law enforcement officials are also recommended to ensure their observance
of the Covenant, especially its articles 7, 9 and 10.
13. The Committee is concerned
that the power of the police to detain people for up to five hours could
be used for the purpose of harassment or intimidation, in violation of
the right under article 9 of the Covenant to personal liberty and security.
The provisions on police detention
should be reviewed to bring them into conformity with the Covenant.
14. While recognizing the
efforts undertaken by the State party to improve prison conditions, the
Committee is concerned that most prisons, especially places of pre-trial
confinement, are overcrowded. Therefore:
The State party should take
the necessary measures to ensure that the conditions of detention of persons
deprived of their liberty comply with article 10 of the Covenant, taking
into account the Committee's General Comment No. 21 (44) and the United
Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
15. The Committee expresses
concern that the right of foreign nationals to freedom of movement may
be restricted on grounds not compatible with the Covenant and that restrictions
on the right to leave Lithuania are imposed on persons who, because of
their employment, may have information relating to State secrets. Furthermore,
the Committee expresses its concern that restrictions are imposed on the
freedom of movement of asylum-seekers with temporary refugee status and
that failure to observe those restrictions may result in the rejection
of the claim for asylum. Moreover, the Committee is concerned that the
law appears to protect against expulsion or deportation in cases where
persons may be exposed to "persecution" but not where there is a threat
to their right to life or of inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
Provisions which restrict
freedom of movement in a manner incompatible with article 12 of the Covenant
should be repealed. Provision should be made to ensure that persons are
not deported to States where they may face a real risk of violation of
their rights under articles 6 and 7 of the Covenant.
16. With regard to article
14 of the Covenant, the Committee is concerned that, although there are
new provisions aimed at ensuring the independence of the judiciary, District
Court judges must still undergo a review by the executive after five years
of service in order to secure permanent appointment. In this regard, the
Committee recommends that:
Any such review process should
be concerned only with judicial competence and should be carried out only
by an independent professional body.
17. The Committee is particularly
concerned about the extensive powers exercised by immigration officers
in respect of illegal immigrants in border areas. Therefore:
The powers of entry and search
exercised by immigration officers should be clearly defined and judicially
controlled in order to ensure compliance with article 17 and other provisions
of the Covenant.
18. The Committee is concerned
that registration requirements for religious organizations, as well as
distinctions made between different religious groups in this connection,
could result in discrimination on religious grounds in violation of the
right to freedom from discrimination on the ground of religion. The Committee
There should be no discrimination
in law or in practice in the treatment of different religions in violation
of articles 18 and 26 of the Covenant.
19. The Committee expresses
its concern over the conditions for alternative service available to persons
who have a conscientious objection to military service, in particular
the grounds for establishing the right to perform alternative service
and its length. Therefore:
The Committee recommends the
State party clarify the grounds and eligibility for performing, without
discrimination, alternative service on grounds of conscience or religious
belief to ensure that the right to freedom of conscience and religion
20. The Committee is concerned
that associations or organizations must comply with registration requirements
in order to operate in Lithuania, and that there are overly broad prohibitions
on their activities. Therefore:
The Committee recommends that
limitations on the operation of associations and organizations not exceed
those permitted under article 22 of the Covenant.
21. The Committee notes that
certain rights provided for in the Constitution of Lithuania are limited
to citizens, although the delegation stated that, in practice, these rights
are enjoyed by all persons. In this regard:
The Committee recommends that
relevant legislation be reviewed in order to ensure that there is no arbitrary
discrimination against aliens, which is incompatible with the provisions
of articles 2 (1) and 26 of the Covenant.
22. The Committee draws the
attention of the Government of Lithuania to the provisions of the guidelines
regarding the form and contents of periodic reports from States parties
and requests that its next periodic report, due on 7 November 2001, contain
material which responds to all the present concluding observations, and
especially on the implementation of the provisions of the Covenant. The
Committee further requests that these concluding observations be widely
disseminated among the public at large in all parts of Lithuania.