Last year the European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) informed readers about a report on the human rights situation in the European Union where the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized the human rights situation in Lithuania http://en.efhr.eu/2013/01/14/another-report-on-human-rights-critical-towards-lithuania/). Once more, in its annual report on the human rights situation in the European Union, the Russian report was very critical towards the Baltic States policy on human rights and freedoms, including Lithuania. The ministry stated that in comparison with last year there were no improvements in the human rights sphere in the Lithuanian Republic.
The ministry noticed that the violations of freedom of speech and media became particularly relevant in Lithuania. In the report it was mentioned that according to some local and international experts, the violations in this sphere have proved the current tendency of Lithuania to stop fulfilling its international obligations.
Concerning the rights of national minorities, the ministry noticed the legal vacuum that appeared after the expiration of the law on national minorities in 2010 (the law was adopted in 1991). It was also mentioned that NGOs are limited when it comes to representing victims of discrimination in Lithuania. The Russian Ministry also noticed the problem of diminishing the possibilities of representatives of national minorities to get secondary education in their native language and stated that the law on education adopted in 2011 and the introduction of the compulsory teaching of some subjects in the Lithuanian languages placed students from national minorities in an unfair position in comparison with ethnic Lithuanians.
The report stated that, in general, the human rights situation in Lithuania had not only failed to improve, but, in some areas (freedom of speech and media), it is even worse than before.
Oskaras Jusys, the Director of International Organizations and Human Rights department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania states that the accusations in the report on the human rights situation in the European Union on alleged discrimination against national minorities in the educational system and freedom of speech in the media has no grounds and does not reflect the actual situation.
EFHR would like to add that this is not the only international report which is concerned with discrimination against national minorities in Lithuania – another is Resolution CM/ResCMN (2012), adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. In this document the Committee mentions the lack of any clear and coherent legal regulations on the protection of national minorities in Lithuania, many obstacles that national minority schools have to face in order to obtain public funds, and insufficient financial support and cultivation of the culture and identities of national minorities. Further, certain judgments adopted by the Lithuanian courts on the use of minority languages are disconcerting as they have not taken due account of other laws protecting national minorities, the relevant provisions of the Constitution and of the Framework Convention.
EFHR would also like to mention that the President of Lithuania, on January 14, during the speech in front of the European Parliament forum, stated that none of the European organizations which investigates discrimination against national minorities in Lithuania had found any of the international regulations on rights of national minorities violated. However, in the opinion of EFHR, based on much research and many international reports on human rights, this is not true. (http://en.efhr.eu/2014/01/16/efhr-denies-another-false-information-from-president-grybauskaite-public-speech/).
To read the press release from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the report on human rights 2012 click here
The full text of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is available here