In a report just published, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) welcomes progress made in Lithuania to address discrimination and racism, but also calls upon the authorities to take specific measures to improve the living conditions of Roma and address violence against LGBT persons.
On the positive side, the report welcomes the adoption of the Inter-Institutional Action Plan 2015-2020 on Non-Discrimination aimed at raising public awareness about the situation of vulnerable groups, the action plan for Roma Integration 2015-2020 which includes measures in housing, education, employment and health, as well as the creation of cybercrime units to investigate criminal offences committed on the Internet, including racist and homophobic hate speech.
The report also notes that legislative changes have given beneficiaries of subsidiary protection access, on an equal footing with nationals, to full health care services and income support benefits.
However, ECRI expresses concern over the social marginalisation of Roma, for example in education and employment.
In addition to incidents of hate speech and violence, which are mainly directed at historical minorities, Lithuania experiences a widespread problem of incitement to homo-/transphobic hatred as well as acts of violence against LGBT persons.
Therefore ECRI recommends as priority that the authorities:
– resolve the difficult housing situation of Roma, by co-operating with and financially supporting local authorities, in particular the Municipality of Vilnius, to provide social housing to members of the Roma community in need; working with rental agencies and associations of private landlords to overcome prejudices against Roma in the private-sector housing market; and providing proper accommodation for the Roma living in the Kirtimai settlement, ensuring that no evictions take place in the meantime, and that all necessary public services are provided.
– develop a comprehensive strategy to tackle effectively the problem of racist and homo-/transphobic hate speech.
The report was prepared following ECRI’s visit to Lithuania in February 2015 and takes account of developments up to 10 December 2015.
List of Recommendations
14. (§ 87) ECRI recommends the Law on Equal Treatment be amended to include measures to protect persons who report discrimination cases, as well as witnesses; and to allow the Ombudsperson to bring cases of discrimination before the courts. ECRI furthermore recommends that the Ombudsperson consider using the full array of sanctions available, depending on the gravity of the offence.