Professor Fernand de Varennes visits Lithuania

One of the most famous experts in defending human rights, professor Fernand de Varennes has visited Lithuania. He is considered one of the best specialists in the domain of linguistic human rights. His most famous works, for which he was distinguished, are Language, Minorities and Human Rights (1996) and A Guide to the Rights of…

Trainings „Diversity among us”

A diversity policy, if introduced in a sensible way, may become a source of comfort for people working in an institution or a company, independently on their gender, race, sexual orientation or physical state. During the trainings, the organisers were trying to show the importance of open and diverse society and the sense of the…

Another criminal penalty for a comment in the cyberspace

The Adminisative Court of Raseiniai ordered a criminal penalty for an inhabitant of Raseinai as punishment for a humiliating comment that publicly encouraged hatred and nationality-based discrimination. Once again we see the effects of the campaign run by the European Foundation of Human Rights concentrating on submitting claims to the prosecution service (for more info:…

Stop the increase of racism and discrimination!

The European Action Week Against Racism is coordinated by a network of non-governmental organisations, called UNITED for Intercultural Action. The week takes place every year on 21st March, in the context of the Day of Fighting Racial Discrimination, which was established by the UN. It is important to promote in the society the idea of…

A week against racism

Changes in today’s society are taking place faster and faster. The meaning of terms such as state, nation, Europe are evolving slowly but inevitably. It can be openly said that the concept of national states from the 19th century is now outdated. In the Europe of today, there are no mono–ethnic countries. Historical influences, labour migration, tourism, business globalization etc. make people of different nationalities change their places of living for various reasons, settle in areas inhabited by other peoples and, in general, travel much more than they travelled in the past. Contact with representatives of various cultures or nations allows one to broaden one’s horizons and to see the world differently from new perspectives. It also creates new possibilities for improvement.

The results of EFHR activity during past conferences

Baltic_Sea_map_Usedom_locationThe interest in the Polish minority in Lithuania is still growing, even on the international stage. Dr László Marácz has analysed the situation of Polish people in Lithuania. The author of the article “Poles in Lithuania” observes that recently Polish-Lithuanian relations are very tense. Moreover, Brussels and Washington are also dissatisfied with the ensuing situation between  the two countries. Even non-aligned Sweden is concerned. OSCE High Commissioner for Minorities Kurt Vollebaek was sent to Lithuania in order to settle this conflict. However, so far, he has not accomplished anything satisfactory. He was informed by Lithuania that the legislation concerning local laws of Poles won’t be changed by the Seimas of the Lithuanian Republic.

Running away from inconvenient facts

On numerous occasions we at EFHR have informed readers about the petition submitted by Mr Tomasz Snarski on the 31st of March 2011, titled “Language rights of Poles in Lithuania”. The petition regarded the main problems on the subject of language rights of the Polish minority – that is, the spelling of names and forenames, labelling settlements or streets in…

What happens next with proper names?

In the media, Lithuanian politicians increasingly express their opinions concerning the original spelling of names and surnames. Remigijus Šimašius, former Minister of Justice, voices his opinion in an article entitled “We lost our way between Warsaw and Vilnius”, which he has recently posted on his blog ( The politician perceives the existing situation as unjust,…

The Foundation organized the meeting to discuss changing the spelling of surnames.

It is widely known that the Lithuanian law – which regulates the issue of name/surname spelling in official documents, as well as any spelling changes – is very complicated. The petitioner’s claims are limited by a number of conditions that have to be fulfilled. This is why the procedures connected with changing the spelling of…

Nobody will be punished for writing “hairdresser” or “shop”

fryzjer_nadpisNow, nobody can be afraid of being punished for writing anything in Polish, Belorussian or Russian. The aim of writing in other languages is to improve the quality of services for tourists and to encourage more tourism to Lithuania. The adoption of the new legislation allows traders to advertise their business in any language they choose. Next to advertisements in the official language it is now possible to include different information or vocal recordings about the business in a foreign language without the fear of being fined. So far the regulations prohibited these types of advertisements and this was, according to the Foundation, illegal and breaking the rules of economic freedom.

More contradictions in law on cases of original names and surnames spelling

EFHR has received another official statement of statistical data about non-Lithuanian surnames registered in Lithuania from the Bureau of Population Records (Gyventojų registro tarnyba prie VRM). What the statistics seem to prove is just as surprising as the previous statement (more information is available here: According to the official statement, it is possible to register names…

EFHR is not the victim – “Saw for the Poles” case continued

facebookSome time ago, the European Foundation of Human Rights came across an outrageous group on social networking site Facebook called “Saw for the Poles”, which aimed to share all sorts of offensive content regarding Polish people. Their motto was “Shiv a pole while he’s young!” EFHR submitted a claim about the group and following that, the Regional Prosecution Office of Lithuania announced that they had started an official investigation into the matter, led by the Vilnius Constabulary.

Why does the number of requests concerning change of surname fall?

On 22 January, the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania announced on their website that during the years 2010 and 2012 the number of requests for name and/or surname changes fell. The ministry perceives this to be as a result of the simplification of procedures for some kinds of justifications provided for alteration. Some…

Another Human Rights Report Critical Towards Lithuania

midrfOn 6 December of this year the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation published an unprecedented document – a report on obeying human rights legislation in the European Union. Russia is not usually associated with obeying these rights – in fact, the largest number of complaints filed to the European Court of Human Rights come from Russia. Furthermore, Russia has the highest number of ECtHR lost cases. Nevertheless, the Russian Ministry of the Interior decided to scrutinize the situation of human rights in particular member states of the European Union.

EFHR brings Christmas presents to the Orphanage in Podbrodzie

Last Thursday, a team of people was sent by the European Foundation for Human Rights to deliver Christmas gifts to the wards of the Orphanage in Podbrodzie. The headmaster was also given educational materials related with human rights, designed for the youngest pupils as well as for the teenagers, with a special focus on the…

“W” lawful in Lithuania after all

The European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) has once again detected the hypocrisy of contradictory legal acts and practices which concern the original spelling of names and surnames in official documents. Today dozens, if not thousands of Lithuanian citizens struggle with the problem of name spelling.  According to the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language,…

How to change your name—step-by-step instruction

A person who would like to exercise his/her right to change a name should file an application to the local Civil Registry Office (Civilinės metrikacijos skyrius). The complete list of the Offices can be found at:

A written application for a name change can also be submitted via the internet, through the MEPIS system (

The following documents should be attached to the filled in application form (

Bartłomiej Śliwa – intern EFHR

The European Foundation for Human Rights (EFHR) is pleased to welcome a new volunteer Bartłomiej Śliwa, a graduate in sociology and comparative study of civilizations at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and a participant of education projects in the field of human rights protection and measures against racism and xenophobia organized by the Foundation Humanity in Action Poland and Association.

Mr Śliwa started to cooperate with EFHR in March 2012.