In 2014, on order of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Teisingumo Ministerija) an opinion poll dedicated to research the level of knowledge about the protection of human rights was conducted. The study shows that only 21% of respondents believes that they have enough knowledge to protect their rights. 34% indicated that they do not have that knowledge at all. 30% of the answerers claimed that they would like to get more information regarding the human rights.
The European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) willing to examine the attitude of the universities towards the topic of raising awareness about the protection of human rights, has asked i.a. whether the study programs include any subject about the human rights.
The EFHR received 26 responses out of the 42 sent requests. Only in 5 universities (University of Vilnius, Mykolas Romeris University, Vytautas Magnus University, Šiauliai University, Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences) and in 2 colleges (Marijampolė College and Lithuanian Business College), a subject related to human rights is lectured. The subject of human rights is well-developed at the Mykolas Romeris University, where since 2004 one can attend such lectures as: International Protection of Human Rights, Human Rights in Biomedicine, European Union and Human Rights and Problems of International Protection of Human Rights. The mentioned subjects are usually given by professors from Lithuania.
In other cases of the rest of universities and colleges, human rights do not have its own subject but are included as a part of other classes, such as: Social Work, Human Rights in Biomedicine, Human rights and Children’s Rights and others.
The situation concerning the subject of the rights of ethnic minorities seems even worse. It was a compulsory subject, until 2013, only at the Mykolas Romeris University for the second-degree students of Protection of Intellectual Rights of a Consumer.
|Academic Institution||Is the subject “Human Rights” available?||Are the human rights discussed within the framework of any other subject?||The semester on which the lecture is given:|
|University of Vilnius||Yes||Yes||First-degree, 4th year|
|Vytautas Magnus University||Yes||Yes||First-degree, 4th year|
|Mykolas Romeris University||Yes||Yes||First-degree, 4th year. Second-degree, 1st year|
|Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences||Yes||Yes||First-degree, 1st year
Second-degree, 2nd year
|Marijampolė College||Yes||Yes||First-degree, 1st year, 1st semester|
|Lithuanian Business College||Yes||Yes||First-degree, 3rd year|
|Šiauliai University||Yes||Yes||First-degree, 1st year, 1st semester; First-degree, 2nd year, 4th semester|
|Social Sciences College||No||Yes||Lack of information|
|Vilnius College||No||Yes||Lack of information|
|The General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania||No||Yes||Lack of information|
|LCC International University||No||Yes||Lack of information|
|Aleksandras Stulginskis University||No||Yes||Lack of information|
|Klaipėda State College||No||Yes||Lack of information|
|Kaunas Technical College||No||Yes||Lack of information|
|Šiauliai State College||No||Yes||Lack of information|
|Vilnius Gediminas Technical University||No||Yes||Lack of information|
|Vilnius College of Technologies and Design||No||Yes||Lack of information|
|Lithuanian Maritime Academy||No||Yes||Lack of information|
The provided data shows that far too little attention is paid to human rights in Lithuania. As a result, the students of law (future lawyers, judges and politicians) are not aware of the existence of international legal instruments which protect the human rights and national minorities. As a consequence, the people of Lithuania are not able to claim their rights in the Lithuanian courts. What is more, the people often ask inadequate institutions for help or do not believe in the possibility of receiving response at all. The Equal Opportunities Ombudsman also mentions that in the report for the year 2015, indicating that 95% of the victims of human rights violations never ask for help.
EFHR is concerned about the fact that the country does not have any policy regarding the promotion of teaching such important subject as human rights. EFHR agrees with the opinion of the Minister of Justice that the framing and implementation of legal education should be started in young age, and the basic information about the human rights should be taught at universities. EFHR believes that the programs of universities, especially these of the students of law, political sciences and sociology, should contain more information regarding the human rights and that these subjects should be mandatory.
EFHR helps to raise awareness about human rights by organizing free trainings on protection of human rights, which are adapted to the needs of pupils, students, employees of institutions, private companies and other interested people.