European Foundation of Human Rights has received a notification that the priest threw Polish tourists out of the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Vilnius because they were not pilgrims. The situation is really unpleasant, discriminatory on grounds of nationality and humiliating human dignity and honor. According to what the media have reported, the priest threw Polish tourists out just telling them to “get out of here and go to Poland”.  

The Foundation, as an organization actively working towards the respect of human rights, cannot be indifferent to such a conduct and mockery of human rights and is very concerned about such information. This type of behaviour is prohibited by Article 169 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania, which penalizes discrimination based on nationality, race, sex, origin, religion or affiliation to other national or ethnic groups. Therefore, the Foundation has taken immediate action in this regard and requested the Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office to hold the priest criminally responsible for his actions. We remind you that the prohibition of discrimination is regulated by both Lithuanian and international law.

Free expression of opinion cannot be absolute if its purpose is the public expression of national hatred. The Foundation stresses that such racist, hateful actions require efficient reaction so that the culprits are identified on time and held criminally responsible. Only then will we be able to stop the feeling of impunity for their actions.

The Foundation is deeply concerned that the wave of hatred has already affected the priests in Lithuania. For more than a year the Foundation has been informing the law enforcement agencies on illegal treatment of minorities in Lithuania. The Foundation would like to make the state authorities responsible for law enforcement recognize the seriousness of the situation and the risk associated with it. The state can not stand idly by the rising tide of hatred on an unprecedented scale. The effects of such an approach are evident, inter alia, in the polls, which clearly show that a negative campaign against ethnic minorities conducted by the media and politicians has influenced the attitude of the Lithuanian society towards them. (http://www.efhr.eu/2012/01/06/efhr-took-notice-seriously-of-the-survey-published-in-the-issue-of-iq-on-january/?lang=en).

In addition, the Foundation is ready to give free legal aid to victims so that they can pursue their claims, including compensation. Therefore, the Foundation asks all those who were offended to contact the Foundation at efhr@efhr.eu.

European Foundation of Human Rights