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TITLE:  LITHUANIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                           LITHUANIA


Lithuania, a parliamentary democracy, regained its independence 
in 1991 after more than 50 years of forced annexation by the 
Soviet Union.  The Constitution, adopted by referendum in 1992, 
established a 141-member unicameral legislature, the Seimas; a 
directly elected President, who functions as Head of State; and 
a Government formed by a Prime Minister and other ministers, 
appointed by the President and approved by the Seimas.  The 
Government exercises authority with the approval of the Seimas 
and the President.  In fair elections in 1992, the Lithuanian 
Democratic Labor Party (LDDP)--the successor to the Communist 
Party of Lithuania, which in 1989 broke away from the Soviet 
Communist Party--won a majority of parliamentary seats and 
formed the Government.  In 1993 voters elected Algirdas 
Brazauskas, the then Chairman of the LDDP, as President.

A unified national police force under the jurisdiction of the 
Interior Ministry is responsible for law enforcement.  The 
State Security Department is responsible for internal security 
and reports to Parliament and the President.  The police 
committed a number of human rights abuses in 1994.

Since independence, Lithuania has made steady progress in 
developing a market economy.  Over 40 percent of state 
property, including most housing and small businesses, has been 
privatized.  Trade is diversifying, with a gradual shift to 
Western markets.  Industry employs 42 percent of the labor 
force, and agriculture 18 percent.  Major exports include 
electronic goods, food, and chemical and petroleum products.

The Government generally respects basic freedoms and civil 
liberties.  It enacted the Preventive Detention Law as a 
temporary measure in 1993 but extended it for an additional 
year.  The law, part of the Government's efforts to combat 
violent organized crime, extended the permissible period of 
detention for criminal suspects to 2 months.  Some opposition 
members of Parliament and the Lithuanian Lawyers' Association 
expressed concern that the Government might abuse its 
provisions (see Section 1.d.).

Police reportedly beat detainees and, in one instance, caused a 
young man's death.  Police surveillance allegedly occurs not 
only in the battle against organized crime but also in other 
circumstances; no one has attempted thus far to challenge its 
legality.  News publications and journalists expressed concern 
about a draft press law which would restrict freedom of the 
press; an impartial committee is reviewing the draft law.  
Abuse of women is reportedly common, but the Government has not 
developed an effective mechanism for dealing with it.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of politically motivated killings.  In 
one well-publicized case, however, police officers in the town 
of Visaginas arrested a young man for disorderly conduct in 
October and beat him to death.  The prosecutor initiated 
proceedings against the police officer suspected of killing the 
young man.  At year's end, the case was still pending.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of abductions or disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

There were no reports that Lithuanian officials engaged in or 
condoned torture.  However, police sometimes beat or otherwise 
physically mistreated detainees.  The local press reported that 
incidents of police brutality were becoming more common.  In 
many instances, the victims reportedly are reluctant to bring 
charges against police officers out of fear of reprisals.  The 
Ministry of the Interior generally has been unwilling to 
publicize statistics on reported cases of police brutality.  In 
the first 9 months of 1994, 65 cases of reported police 
brutality were investigated, of which 18 resulted in 
convictions of the police officers concerned.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Except in cases that come under the provisions of the 
Preventive Detention Law (described below), police may detain a 
person for up to 72 hours, based upon reliable evidence of 
criminal activity.  At the end of that period, police must 
decide whether or not to make a formal arrest, and a magistrate 
must approve an arrest warrant.  The authorities have a total 
of 10 days to present supporting evidence.  Once a suspect is 
formally charged, prosecutors may keep the suspect under 
investigative arrest for up to 2 months before taking the 
suspect to court.  In exceptional cases, investigative arrest 
may be extended by a further 6 to 9 months with the written 
approval of the Procurator General.  The Constitution provides 
for the right to an attorney from the moment of detention.

In an effort to cope with the rise in violent organized crime, 
Parliament in 1993 passed the Preventive Detention Law 
pertaining to persons suspected of being violent criminals.  
The Law, which was passed as a temporary measure, allowed 
police, but not internal security and armed forces, to detain 
suspected violent criminals up to 2 months rather than only for 
the standard 72-hour period.  The effect of the Law is to give 
prosecutors and investigators additional time to conduct an 
investigation and file formal criminal charges against the 
detainee.  Those apprehended must be released after 2 months if 
an investigation does not lead to formal charges.  Local police 
commissioners must obtain the Procurator General's approval of 
each arrest carried out under the provisions of this law.

Parliament voted in December 1993 to extend the temporary law 
for an additional year, but with several new provisions.  
Checks on prosecutorial abuse are provided by the requirements 
that a detainee (1) must be informed within 3 hours following 
arrest about the length of preventive detention being 
considered (not to exceed 2 months), and (2) must be brought 
before a court within 48 hours of arrest for a ruling on the 
legality of detention.  Furthermore, a detainee has the legal 
right to consult with an attorney during the period of 
detention.  The law gives law enforcement officials wide 
latitude in making arrest decisions and may be open to abuse.  
Police detained over 400 suspected members of criminal gangs 
under the provisions of this law.  In several well-publicized 
cases, the law helped to convict and sentence dangerous 
criminals to lengthy prison terms.  In many other instances, 
however, the suspects were freed without charge after 
expiration of the maximum detention period.

There is no exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Legal reform efforts departing from the former Soviet model 
continued in 1994, with Parliament's passage of new civil and 
criminal procedure codes as well as a Court Reform Law.  The 
judicial system presently consists of a two-tier structure of 
district courts and a Supreme Court, which is an appellate 
court.  There is also a Constitutional Court.  Court decisions 
are arrived at independently.  The Procurator General exercises 
an oversight responsibility through a network of district 
prosecutors who work with police investigators--employed by the 
Ministry of the Interior--in preparing the prosecution's 
evidence for the courts.  The institution of lay assessors was 
abolished at the end of the year.

Under the provisions of the Court Reform Law, to be implemented 
starting in January 1995, two new kinds of courts will be 
created.  Local district courts will be set up below the 
present district courts to handle cases at the municipal level, 
while a new appellate court level will hear appeals arising 
from district court decisions, thereby reducing the case load 
of the overburdened Supreme Court.  In addition, as a result of 
Lithuania's accession to the Council of Europe, the Ministry of 
Justice has begun a thorough review of Lithuania's laws with a 
view towards bringing them into accord with the provisions of 
the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Constitution provides defendants with the right to 
counsel.  In practice, the right to legal counsel is abridged 
by the shortage of trained advocates who find it difficult to 
cope with the burgeoning numbers of criminal cases brought 
before the courts.  Outside observers have recommended the 
establishment of a public defender system to regularize 
procedures for provision of legal assistance to indigent 
persons charged in criminal cases.  By law, defense advocates 
have access to government evidence and may present evidence and 
witnesses.  The courts and law enforcement agencies generally 
honor routine, written requests for evidence.  There were no 
political trials.

Government rehabilitation of over 50,000 persons charged with 
anti-Soviet crimes during the Stalinist era led to reports in 
1991 that some people alleged to have been involved in crimes 
against humanity during the Nazi occupation had benefited from 
this rehabilitation.  A special judicial procedure was 
established to examine each case in which an individual or 
organization raised an objection that a rehabilitated person 
may have committed a crime against humanity.  In 1994 the 
Supreme Court overturned the rehabilitation of three persons 
whose cases were pending from 1993.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The authorities do not engage in indiscriminate or widespread 
monitoring of the correspondence or communications of 
citizens.  With the written authorization of a procurator or 
judge, however, police and the security service may engage in 
surveillance and monitoring activities on grounds of national 
security.  Except in cases of hot pursuit or the danger of 
disappearance of evidence, police must obtain a search warrant 
signed by a prosecutor before they may enter premises.

It is widely assumed, however, that law enforcement agencies 
have increased the use of a range of surveillance methods to 
cope with the expansion of organized crime.  There is some 
question as to the legal basis of this police surveillance, but 
there are no known legal cases challenging the legality of the 
surveillance.  The former president of the Lithuanian National 
Bank, who charged that eavesdropping devices were found in his 
office in 1993, publicly called on the Procurator General to 
investigate the incident.  The press reported that, although 
the devices were in fact found and are in the possession of the 
new bank management, the authorities failed to pursue 
investigation of the incident.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedom of speech is widely respected.  Prior restraint over 
either print or broadcast media and restrictions on disclosure 
are prohibited, unless the Government determines that national 
security is involved.

Nevertheless, journalists working for the state-owned 
electronic media complained about pressure by superiors to 
avoid criticism of government policies in their television and 
radio reporting.  Most independent news publications and many 
prominent journalists protested in September against the 
provisions of a draft press law, which they thought severely 
restricted freedom of the press.  The ruling party announced 
the formation of an impartial committee to review the proposed 
press law and the provisions which prompted the protests.

Many investigative journalists covering organized crime were 
harassed by and received death threats from these groups.  A 
copublisher and editor of a widely read daily, who wrote 
extensively on organized crime, was murdered in October 1993.  
In October 1994, the Supreme Court convicted four persons with 
criminal backgrounds of murder in the case.  One person 
received a death sentence, which will be subject to court 
review in early 1995.

Five private radio stations, including one broadcasting in 
Polish, are on the air.  Two private television stations also 
broadcast regular programming to a wide audience.  On February 
17, virtually all of these private radio and television 
stations broadcast a simultaneous public appeal for support 
against the Government's alleged attempts to monopolize the 
electronic media.  Representatives of the private electronic 
media have complained for some time about the unfair 
broadcasting rates that the Government sets which allegedly 
favor the state radio and television stations.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

There are no laws that prohibit public gatherings.  During 1994 
a large number of public meetings and demonstrations took place.

The Constitution provides for, and the authorities respect, the 
right of citizens to associate freely, requiring only that they 
inform local government authorities of planned demonstrations.

The Communist Party of Lithuania and other organizations 
associated with the Soviet regime continue to be banned.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The authorities did not restrict the exercise of the 
constitutional right to religious freedom in 1994.

During the year, representatives of some Protestant 
denominations and smaller religious communities continued to 
protest against a pending draft law on religion that classifies 
religions according to whether they are considered 
"established" or "unestablished."

A small Jewish community exists, largely in the main cities.  
Jewish leaders called on officials to provide better police 
protection for Jewish cemeteries in Kaunas, Vilnius, and 
Kalvaria which have been subject to increasing vandalism and 
pilfering.  The city government of Kaunas established an ad hoc 
committee, including police officials and Jewish community 
representatives, to look for ways to improve security at the 
Jewish cemeteries.  Kaunas officials said they would try to 
increase funding for the upkeep and protection of the 
cemeteries.

The Prime Minister on September 22 publicly deplored the 
Nazi-initiated killing of 200,000 Lithuanian Jews during World 
War II.  He apologized to the Jewish people for the fact that 
several hundred Lithuanians actively assisted the Nazis in 
carrying out their genocidal aims and pledged to prosecute 
suspected Nazi war criminals who are deported back to 
Lithuania.  Toward year's end, the Jewish community became 
apprehensive regarding anti-Semitic articles in a leading 
independent newspaper and sent an open letter to the President, 
asking that he condemn these articles.  Jewish representatives 
noted that the President had met them to discuss the issues 
raised in the letter, but by year's end he had not publicly 
condemned the articles in question.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Under the law, citizens and permanent residents are permitted 
free movement within, and return to, their country.  There are 
no restrictions on foreign travel.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Lithuania is a parliamentary democracy.  The election law 
provides for a secret ballot in parliamentary elections.  Of 
141 parliamentary seats, 71 are elected directly and 70 through 
proportional representation.  A party must draw a minimum 4 
percent of the national vote in order to gain a seat through 
proportional representation.  National minority slates are 
exempt from this rule.  Two of the four Union of Poles 
representatives won their seats on a proportional basis, even 
though the union slate captured only 2 percent of the 
nationwide proportional vote.

The Citizenship Law, adopted in December 1991, is generally 
inclusive with regard to the country's ethnic minorities.  The 
Law provides citizenship to persons who were born within the 
borders of the Republic; who were citizens of Lithuania prior 
to 1940 and their descendants; and who became citizens under 
previous legal authority.  Over 90 percent of Lithuania's 
ethnic Russian, Polish, Belarusian, and Ukrainian inhabitants 
received citizenship.  Qualification for naturalization of 
persons not covered by the above-mentioned categories requires 
10-year residency, a permanent job or source of income, 
knowledge of the Constitution, renunciation of any other 
citizenship, and proficiency in Lithuanian.  Well over 90 
percent of ethnic Poles, Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians 
residing in Lithuania in 1991 were granted citizenship.

While there are no legal restrictions on women's participation 
in politics or government, they are underrepresented in 
political leadership positions.  There are only 10 female 
deputies in the 141-member Seimas, and no female ministers 
serve in the current Cabinet.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Lithuania is 
an umbrella organization for several small human rights groups 
which operate without government restriction.  In October the 
Government established the Department of International and 
Human Rights within the Justice Ministry, which is to monitor 
Lithuanian laws and legal practice to determine whether these 
are in accord with Lithuania's international obligations.  The 
authorities actively encouraged international and 
nongovernmental human rights groups to visit Lithuania.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, 
religion, disability, or ethnic background.

     Women

The Constitution provides equal rights for men and women, and 
official policy specifies equal pay for equal work.  Generally, 
men and women receive the same pay for comparable work, but 
women are largely underrepresented in some professions and in 
the managerial sector as a whole.  Nonetheless, significant 
inequalities in Lithuanian society based on gender continue.  
Lithuanian society still has very conservative views about the 
role of women in society.  The fact that women's enrollment now 
exceeds that of men in some university faculties has prompted 
university administrations to introduce preferential entrance 
criteria for men to redress what is perceived as an abnormal 
state of affairs.  Parliamentary deputies speaking about female 
deputies in public sometimes make unflattering comments based 
on gender stereotypes, without eliciting any unusual public 
reaction.

Abuse of women in the home is reportedly common, especially in 
connection with alcohol abuse by husbands, but institutional 
mechanisms for coping with this problem are only now being 
started.  One private women's organization is attempting to 
establish a shelter for abused women.  According to a recent 
sociological survey, 20 percent of women report experiencing an 
attempted rape, while another 33 percent report having been 
beaten at least once in their lives.  Official statistics on 
the incidence of abuse of women in the home are not filed 
separately from other categories of assault.  Women's groups 
report some resistance among law enforcement officials to 
collecting and releasing such statistics.  Persons convicted of 
rape generally receive sentences of from 3 to 5 years in prison.

     Children

The Ministries of Social Protection and of the Interior shared 
official responsibility for the protection of children's rights 
and welfare in 1994.  Starting in 1994, the Children's Rights 
Service of the Ministry of Social Protection took on many of 
the functions formerly handled by the Interior Ministry and its 
subordinate police officers throughout the country, thereby 
focusing more attention on the social welfare needs of 
children.  Press reporting on crime throughout the year noted a 
number of instances of severe beatings of children by parents 
that resulted in hospitalization or even death.  Social welfare 
workers believe that child abuse in connection with alcohol 
abuse by parents is a serious problem.  The prevalence of 
authoritarian values in family upbringing, however, has 
discouraged more active measures against child abuse.  The 
latest statistics available indicate that 5 children between 1 
and 14 years of age were murdered in 1994, while 61 were 
subject to varying kinds of abuse.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Non-Lithuanian ethnic groups, including Russians, Poles, 
Belarusians, Ukrainians, and Jews, comprise roughly 20 percent 
of the population.

Non-Lithuanians, especially Poles, have expressed concerns 
about the possibility of job discrimination arising from 
implementation of the language law.  Many public sector 
employees were required to attain a functional knowledge of 
Lithuanian within several years, although the authorities have 
been granting liberal extensions of the time frame in which 
this is to be achieved.  During the first half of 1994, 
language-testing committees tested 7,299 people for whom 
Lithuanian is not a native language.  Of those examined, 6,394 
were certified as language qualified.  There is no documented 
evidence of dismissals based on application of this law.  
Lithuanian authorities have indicated that the intent of the 
law is to apply moral incentives to learn Lithuanian as the 
official language of the State; they have asserted that no one 
would be dismissed solely because of an inability to meet the 
language requirement.

     People with Disabilities

The Law on Integrating Disabled People, passed in 1991, 
provides for a broad category of rights and government benefits 
to which disabled people are legally entitled.  However, given 
severe budgetary constraints, the Government has been able to 
allocate only modest sums towards implementation of the law. 
The equivalent of $3.25 million was disbursed in 1994.  A 
considerable portion of this sum was channelled through a 
number of social organizations representing the disabled.  
Government funds, for example, were provided to groups that 
drafted labor contracts for disabled workers in different 
sectors of the national economy.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The 1991 Law on Trade Unions and the Constitution recognize the 
right of workers and employees to form and join trade unions.  
The Law on Trade Unions formally extends this right to 
employees of the police and the armed forces, although the 
Collective Agreements Law of 1991 does not allow collective 
bargaining by government employees involved in law enforcement 
and security-related work.

In 1990 the Lithuanian branch of the U.S.S.R.'s All-Union 
Central Council of Trade Unions, grouping 23 of 25 trade 
unions, renamed itself the Confederation of Free Trade Unions 
(CFTU) and began asserting increased independence from its 
Soviet parent.  In 1993 the CFTU joined eight other unions that 
also had been a part of the All-Union Central Council to form 
the Lithuanian Trade Union Center (LTUC).

The Lithuanian Workers Union (LWU) was formed in 1990 as an 
alternative to the CFTU.  Unlike the CFTU/LTUC, the LWU was an 
early supporter of Lithuanian independence from the Soviet 
Union and actively sought Western free trade union contacts.  
The LWU now claims a dues-paying membership of 50,000 organized 
in 35 regional groupings.

There are no restrictions on unions affiliating with 
international trade unions.

The Law on Trade Unions and the Constitution provide for the 
right to strike, although public officials providing essential 
services may not strike.  There were fewer strikes in 1994 than 
in 1993.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Collective Agreements Law provides for collective 
bargaining and the right of unions to organize employees, 
although several provisions reportedly hinder the establishment 
of new union organizations.  According to the Law, unions, in 
order to be registered, must have at least 30 founding members 
in large enterprises or have a membership of one-fifth of all 
employees in small enterprises.  Difficulties commonly arise in 
state enterprises in which employees are represented by more 
than one union.  LWU officials charge that managers in some 
state enterprises discriminate against LWU organizers and have 
on occasion dismissed employees in retribution for their trade 
union activities.  The LWU also charges that the judicial 
system is slow to respond to LWU grievances regarding 
dismissals from work.  LWU representatives charge that state 
managers sometimes prefer the CFTU/LTUC over the LWU unions as 
collective bargaining partners.

In general, trade union spokesmen say that managers often 
determine wages without regard to trade union wishes, except in 
larger factories with well-organized trade unions.  The 
Government issues periodic decrees that serve as guidelines for 
state enterprise management in setting wage scales.  The LWU 
and the LTUC engage in direct collective bargaining over wages 
at the workplace level.  Wage decisions are increasingly being 
made at the enterprise level, although government ministries 
still retain some control over this sphere in state-owned 
enterprises.  The LWU reports that it supplements its 
bargaining efforts with active lobbying in government 
ministries that own enterprises.  During the first 10 months of 
1994, wage increases appear to have been greater than price 
rises.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced labor, and this prohibition 
is observed in practice.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The legal minimum age for employment of children without 
parental consent is 16 years.  The legal minimum age with the 
written consent of parents is 14.  Free trade union 
representatives assert that the mechanisms for monitoring 
minimum age legislation are rudimentary.  Complaints about 
infringements of child labor regulations generally are referred 
to local prosecutors who investigate the charges and take legal 
action to stop violations.  Available evidence suggests that 
child labor is rare.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The legal minimum wage is $13 (52 litai) per month, while the 
average wage in the state industrial sector is $93 (372 litai) 
per month.  The Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Social 
Protection periodically set the minimum wage.  Every 3 months 
these two government bodies must submit their minimum wage 
proposals to the Parliament, which has the right to approve or 
revise the minimum wage level.  Enforcement of the minimum wage 
is almost nonexistent, in part because the Government does not 
want to exacerbate the current unemployment problem.  The 
40-hour workweek is standard, with a provision for at least one 
24-hour rest period.

The Constitution provides that workers have the right to safe 
and healthy working conditions.  In 1993 a Labor Safety Law 
went into effect, setting down the rights of workers confronted 
with hazardous conditions and providing legal protection for 
workers who file complaints about such conditions.  The State 
Labor Inspection Service, which the Law established, is charged 
with implementing the Labor Safety Law.  Regional labor 
inspection offices, each of which is staffed by only two or 
three officials, are severely understaffed.  They closed 2,756 
enterprises or departments of enterprises found to be in 
violation of safety regulations during the first 9 months of 
1994.  Some 270 persons were fined, and 114 cases were referred 
to local prosecutors' offices.  Unsafe conditions caused by 
worn, outdated industrial technologies are reportedly 
widespread, and 108 work-related deaths were recorded in the 
first 9 months of 1994.


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[end of document]

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