October 16, 2021

More ‘violations’ in Lithuania than reported

Experiences detailing alleged violations towards migrants in Lithuania are actually round 20 in quantity, the pinnacle of EU border company Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, has mentioned.

“There are, if I remember correctly now 17, almost 20 let’s say, serious incident reports with a suspicion of the violation of fundamental rights in Lithuania,” he mentioned on Monday (11 October) at an occasion organised by the Brussels-based EUWatch, an NGO.

“My understanding is that the reason for that is the interpretation of Lithuanian law. The question is whether Lithuanian law on border management and asylum is compatible with EU legislation,” he mentioned.

EUobserver beforehand reported that round 14 so-called critical incident studies linked to “collective expulsions”, had been drafted.

Collective expulsions of individuals crossing a border to hunt asylum is a violation of the European Conference of Human Rights.

The studies are written by officers from the Warsaw-based company at present on the bottom with their Lithuanian counterparts close to the Belarus border.

The company, beneath article 46 of its regulation is obligation sure to droop or terminate operations in case of significant abuses, a choice already as soon as taken by Leggeri.

When pressed on whether or not the company would pull out of Lithuania, Leggeri mentioned he can’t touch upon the continuing investigations.

Over 4,000 migrants and potential asylum seekers have entered Lithuania from Belarus as of mid-August, inflicting a spike in tensions with the Minsk regime beneath president Alexander Lukashenko.

Rustamas Liubajevas, commander of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service (VSAT), advised the Baltic Information Service final week that the studies of abuse had been being collectively investigated with Frontex.

“We have provided information that this is being carried out in accordance with Lithuanian legislation,” he mentioned.

Inside minister Agnė Bilotaitė additionally mentioned authorities supposed to look into the matter.

“We have taken decisions in our national law that one can only enter Lithuania through a legal way, that is, through a border checkpoint or by filing their request with our embassy,” she was quoted as saying.

These guidelines appeared over the summer time amid a state of emergency when Lithuania adopted amendments to its legislation on the authorized standing of aliens.

The amendments say functions for asylum can solely be lodged at crossing factors or transit zones, when somebody legally entered Lithuania, or at a Lithuanian diplomatic mission or consulate.

One other rule says an applicant’s request for asylum can’t be accepted after apprehension on the border, besides at official crossing factors.

Critics say the modifications run opposite to Lithuania’s obligations beneath worldwide and EU legislation, noting that it permits for unlawful pushbacks also called non-refoulement – the place somebody searching for asylum is pressured to return from the place they got here.

The Brussels-based European Council on Refugees and Exiles (Ecre) mentioned the amendments quantity to the violation of the appropriate to asylum and “the principle of non-refoulement”.

The so-called Schengen borders code, which governs the exterior borders of the EU, says folks searching for asylum can’t be pressured again towards their will.

“It should be applied in accordance with the member states’ obligations as regards international protection and non-refoulement,” states an article in the code.

The EU’s asylum procedures directive makes related calls for, noting that the nation of first entry should apply the precept of non-refoulement in accordance with the Geneva Conference.

Nevertheless, it additionally says EU states can designate particular areas for these functions.

However these particular areas have been challenged in the previous by the European Court docket of Human Rights and most not too long ago in July towards Hungary in a ruling on “collective expulsions”.

The courtroom had discovered Hungary had restricted entry to transit areas and no formal procedures for asylum, ensuing in huge pushbacks.

The investigations into the alleged Lithuanian abuse reported by the Frontex brokers can be at present being probed by the company’s basic rights officer.

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