The Human Rights Monitoring Institute and the Global Detention Project jointly issued an alternative follow-up report to the UN Committee on Torture (CAT) with regards to the recommendations contained in Paragraph 12 of the committee’s Concluding Observations CAT/C/LTU/CO/4 on the fourth periodic report of Lithuania.
Recommendations included in the joint report include:
- The Lithuanian Government should abolish legal provisions allowing for mass automatic long-term detention of non-citizens—including in times of emergency— and ensure that detention is used only as a measure of last resort, by a court order and for the shortest term possible, in line with long-standing Committee recommendations that people in need of international protection should “not be detained without proper legal justification and safeguards”; and their “detention should always be an exceptional measure based on an individual assessment and subject to regular review.”
- All people placed in immigration detention should be provided with “fundamental guarantees and safeguards,” as stipulated by the Committee in its General Comment No. 4, including the provision of “legal, medical, social and, when necessary, financial assistance as well as the right to a recourse.” Detainees should be provided with information on their legal status and their rights, including the right of access to legal aid, in a manner which enables them to exercise those rights in practice; accessibility and quality of legal aid should be guaranteed.
- The Government should ensure the legal and practical possibility for people entering irregularly and who are present in the territory of Lithuania to submit asylum applications and to remain in Lithuania whilst their asylum applications are considered, as per its obligations under the UN Refugee Convention.
- To ensure transparency in the treatment of all people in border zones, the Government should allow non-governmental organisations, international organizations and journalists to have unhindered access to border zone areas, including in times of emergency, without requiring them to obtain individual permits.
- The Government should ensure that there is a uniform vulnerability identification process and that more thorough vulnerability identification checks are performed upon arrival, including screening for vulnerabilities based on previous experiences of trafficking, torture or psychological abuse, in line with standards established by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).
- In line with international standards children and their families should never be detained for migration-related reasons. In their joint General Comment (No. 4/ 2017), the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on Migrant Workers ruled that the detention of children for migration-related reasons is an inherent violation of children’s human rights and must be abolished and prohibited by law. Moreover, it is always in the best interests of the child to remain with their family and families should not be separated for the purposes of migration-related detention. Instead, non-custodial solutions must be found for children and their families to be cared for in the community.
- All non-citizens placed in de facto or de jure detention must be provided adequate medical care throughout the duration of their detention, including medical screenings upon entry and ongoing for the entire detention period, in line with the medical recommendations issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its 2022 immigration detention healthcare implementation guide.
- Appropriate, non-detention reception arrangements in local communities should be created, which could enable the country to better cope with large numbers of arrivals in a short period of time.
- Independent and thorough investigations into allegations of ill-treatment or torture in places of immigration detention or accommodation sites for asylum seekers and migrants should be carried out and procedures enacted to prevent and report abuse.
- There is an urgent need for more transparency in the use of both de jure and de facto detention measures, including the numbers of people subjected to such measures. The Government must provide up-to-date and disaggregated statistics on the numbers of people placed in all forms of migration-related detention, including: data about the numbers of people being subjected to both de facto and de jure detention measures, broken down by day, month, and year statistics; the demographics of detainees; the nationalities of detainees; a full list of facilities used for both de facto and de jure detention measures; and legal grounds for each detention measure.