Vector parchment with a pen and ink. Icon for recordsThe Citizenship Act has recently been discussed publicly at great length, especially  due to amendments on its content which were introduced by the President of Lithuania. However, from the point of view of many experts, the currently proposed amendments might be inconsistent with provisions of  the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and with the doctrine of the Constitutional Court. This is because it could be argued that the changes would favour individuals with special merits for country,  at the same time discriminating against ordinary citizens.

Further, the European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) draws attention to the fact that the Citizenship Act should be the guarantor for stability among Lithuanian citizens, so it should not be amended several times. In addition, the President is the head of State (Art. 77 of the Constitution) and is elected through democratic elections by the citizens of Lithuania and thus carries the responsibility to work for the good of all citizens without  favouring any one of its groups.

The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania (RL), the act of the highest legal force, in Article 12 states that citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania shall be acquired by birth or on other grounds provided for by the Law. It also states that it is impossible to be a citizen of Lithuania and another state at the same time, except in cases provided for under this Law. Furthermore, the Citizenship Act lists conditions under which citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania shall be lost i.e. upon renunciation of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania; upon acquisition of citizenship of another state; or on the grounds provided for by international agreements to which the Republic of Lithuania is a party. A person may be recognized as having lost citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania if he is in the military service of another state or is employed in the public service of another state without having been granted authorization by relevant institutions of the Republic of Lithuania as it may cause harm to the interests of the RL.

There is no common policy on the aquisition or deprivation of citizenship as it shall be established by  a national government.  In the case of  the EU, its citizenship is established for all members of the Union and  is supplementary to national status.  The European Court of Justice noted that such implementation of regulations, which restrict entitlements of the other to determine the conditions of obtaining citizenship is not lawful. The use of additional criteria for granting citizenship by another country, from which the right to the use of law provided by the treaty becomes dependent, is incompatible with the primary law of the EU.

On the basis of the valid provisions, children of mixed marriages can possess dual citizenship. From 01.04.2011, children who reached the age of 21 are forced to renounce their citizenship.  It makes the situation even more suprising as the President implemented restrictions on the rights of children firstly, and at the same time she proposed new unfair provisions for people who will grant dual citizenship of RL for special merit to Lithuania. Unfortunately, those amendments would favour individuals only, at the same time discriminating against ordinary citizens. Instead of  already proposed amendments to the Law on citizenship, EFHR proposes to implement changes in the Constitution which would regulate the problem of dual citizenship. The proper form of Article 12 of the Constitution should be read then as follows: ‘A citizen of the Republic of Lithuania can be a citizen of another country.’ Moreover, the citizen cannot be deprived of  his/her citizenship, unless he or she renounces it. The above mentioned change would end the current dispute on the topic of  dual citizenship in Lithuanian law. Such an interpretation should not cause any difficulties and it would not discriminate against either Lithuanian citizens or citizens of foreign countries.  In our opinion, citizens of the Republic of Lithuania should be given the opportunity to express their opinion on the matter e.g.  via a national referendum. Find more details here.

Since 2012 the rate of acquiring citizenship of RL was lower than in the other countries of the  EU and as it was noted per 1000 citizens, only 0,1 were given Lithuanian citizenship. In 2013 the status of Lithuanian citizen was granted to 173 people , and in 2012 to 183. In the last year  alone, 409 people were deprived of Lithuanian citizenship upon acquisition of another state’s citizenship and 43 gave their Lithuanian citizenship up of their own free will. In the first half of this year, 19 voluntary renunciations were noted , wheras almost 408 people lost their citizenship upon acquisition of citizenship of another state. In times of a demographic crisis, each person, in order to retain a formal connection with their homeland, should have the right to preserve their Lithuanian citizenship while obtaning the citizenship of another country.

Loss of the citizenship

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

I half year 2014

Upon renunciation of citizenship

121

94

60

71

26

43

19

Upon acquisition of citizenship of another state

647

784

519

543

419

409

408

Total

768

878

579

614

445

452

427

EFHR