The European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) sheds new light on the letter sent by Gintaras Steponavičius to the parents of children attending Polish minority schools in Lithuania. In August this year, over 26 thousand people received a letter from the Minister of Education and Science, Gintaras Steponavičius, informing about the changes that the new amended Act on Education brings and highlighting its benefits. Beside all the controversies that the letter inspired in the Polish community, very few wondered why the letter was sent directly to its addressees and, more importantly, who disclosed the parents’ personal details to the Minister. From among many violations, such as sending an official letter in an inadequate register or showing little regard for the letter (numerous spelling, grammar and stylistic mistakes) – it was the latter that inspired the most interest of the Foundation. The reason was that sending a letter to minority representatives, especially underage ones, violates Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which provides everyone with the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence, as well as Article 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which gives the right for personal data protection concerning that person.
Pursuant to Article 8 of the Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data, it is prohibited to process personal data, disclosing the racial and ethnic origin.
The Foundation has filed a petition, among others, to the General Prosecutor’s Office and to the State Data Protection Inspectorate to hold Gintaras Steponavičius accountable since his letter is a summary violation of national acts of law (art. 36 sec. 3 of
Personal Data Protection Act and art. 259-1 of the Latvian Administrative Violations Code) as well as international ones.
During the rally, the Foundation will have its own stand where everyone is welcome! You will be able to sign three petitions addressed to the European Union Parliament and the European Union Commission against:
- processing of personal data which disclose ethnical origin.
- the Education Act, which discriminates against minorities in Lithuania
- restricting the rights of the Polish minority in Lithuania (support for the complaint made by Mr.Tomasz Snarski)
During the rally, we will also distribute leaflets informing of Your rights.
The Foundation protects human rights. Your rights!
European Foundation of Human Rights
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel.: +37069150822
Tłumaczenie Katarzyna Różańska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Różańska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.