The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is a body of independent experts, which monitors implementation of the United Nation’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by periodic country report procedure. On 6 January 2016, the CERD released its concluding observations on the combined sixth to eighth periodic reports of Lithuania.
The report acknowledges multiple positive legislative acts and public policies, such as the Action plan for Roma integration into Lithuanian society for 2015-2020, the inter-institutional Action plan for promotion of non-discrimination for 2015-2017 and the establishment of the Department of National Minorities in 2015. However, the report also points out several loopholes in implementation of the convention.
The EFHR summoned the most important grievances mentioned in the report:
Firstly, the Committee regrets that Lithuania has not adopted a law on national minorities. The CERD encourages Lithuania to speed up the legislative process on this issue.
Secondly, the Committee is worried by Lithuanian’s reluctance to root out hate speech and hate crimes. The report states that the hate crime cases should be registered, investigated and prosecuted more systematically. Moreover, long-term strategy against hate crimes should be created.
Thirdly, in relation to previous point, the report states that Lithuanian authorities should take appropriate and effective measures to ensure that public demonstrations do not contain racist, xenophopic or anti-Semitic propaganda neither by a single person nor by groups.
Fourthly, CERD acknowledges that the effective implementation of the convention requires more than just action plans. Institutions dealing with human rights and national minorities need to have the tools to execute the plans in practice. The CERD recommends guarantying sufficient resources for the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman and for the Department of National Minorities.
Furthermore, the committee recommends that Lithuania should ratify International Labour Organization’s (ILO) International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the Domestic Workers Convention (No.189). The committee also notes that the state should expand its dialogue with civil society organizations working with human rights.
Within one year of the concluding opinion, Lithuanian government should submit information on how the state has: (1) speeded up drafting law on national minorities, (2) improved situations of statelessness people and refugees within their borders, (3) speeded up drafting law on reparations for victims of racial discrimination. The EFHR will urge the government to proceed with the recommendations.
The EFHR submitted a shadow report for the CERD prior to the committee’s concluding observations to ensure that none of the important issues will not be unnoticed. The summary of the report is available here. We are honoured to notice that the CERD conforms our report in many issue. This encourages to continue our work with human rights.
CERD’s next periodic report will be in 2018. The government is asked to its combined ninth and tenth periodic reports by 9 January 2018.
The observations are available to download below.