European Foundation of Human Rights – on the trail of statistics manipulation
On the 24th of March of this year, the European Foundation of Human Rights submitted a letter to the Institute of Work and Social Science in Vilnius in which it asked for explanation about some unclear aspects of the survey that was conducted by the institute in 2008, related to the situation of ethnic minority members within the work market.
In its letter, the Foundation stated that in the Fundamental Rights Agency’s 2010 report on page 88 the results of the survey conducted by the institute below are quoted. There it is said that “In Lithuania approximately 42% of the surveyed people from minorities stated that they have had problems to find work due to their poor knowledge of the Lithuanian language.” This sentence contributed to the Lithuanian government’s decision to pass a new act on education, as an argument in favour of the act that introduced additional teaching in the Lithuanian language. The Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs A. Ažubalis used the statistical data from the survey in his speech on the 22nd of February 2011.
According to the European Foundation of Human Rights, the Fundamental Rights Agency incorrectly interpreted or translated the report that it received from the Institute. It is not true that 42% of surveyed people stated that they had problems when looking for work due to their poor skills at Lithuanian. The question that is to be then asked is why the Lithuanian government bases their decisions on the original report, which is the report of the Lithuanian Institute. Basing their decisions on a report that is not true and not based on facts can be perceived as manipulation.
In its letter, the Foundation pointed out that there is an urgent need to clarify the situation and also asked for explanation of the results published by the Institute, asking the latter to state how the survey was conducted and whether the results have been correctly interpreted by the Fundamental Rights Agency and Lithuanian politicians. Another important issue raised is to what extent are the results of the survey able to be a representative sample of the minorities given that the survey was only conducted on 622 people from those groups. What criteria were there when selecting the participants of the survey? What were the nationality proportions in the survey based on? Was it taken into consideration that people within the 30-45 and 55 and above age group finished education before Lithuania gained independence? Why were retired people included in the survey as well? These are the questions that the Foundation asked in their letter.
Once we receive a reply to our correspondence, we shall inform you of the fact immediately.
Translated by Kamil Szwarc within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.