Afghans mentioned by ECHR appear on Belarus’ side near Lithuanian border, won’t be let in

  • 2021-09-09
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Migrants from Afghanistan who were mentioned in a recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have showed up on the Belarusian side near Lithuania’s border and will not be allowed to enter Lithuania, Rustamas Liubajevas, the commander of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service (SBGS), has said. 

“Those irregular migrants have showed up. Just as expected, they appeared and arrived from the Belarusian side, approached the border in order to enter Lithuania illegally,” he stated on Thursday.

The migrants’ lawyer had also arrived at the border and tried to convince border guards that those persons had to be allowed to enter Lithuania pursuant to the decision issued by the ECHR, Liubajevas said.

He stressed, however, that Lithuania had not been obliged to let the migrants in as it had only been obliged not to remove the migrants to Belarus provided that they were already on Lithuanian territory.

“Our officers will follow the procedures in force in the territory of the Republic of Lithuania and these migrants will not be let in,” Liubajevas said adding that, according to information at his disposal, the said individuals had arrived to the border without any identity documents and only with a copy of the ECHR decision.

The ECHR on Wednesday decided to indicate an interim measure in the case Sadeed and Others vs Lithuania concerning five Afghan nationals who had been attempting to enter Lithuania from Belarus and now asserted that they were in hiding in Lithuania. 

The Court indicated to the Lithuanian government that the applicants should not be removed to Belarus, provided that they were already on Lithuanian territory. It also said that the measure would apply until 29 September 2021 inclusive.

However, Karolina Bubnyte-Sirmene, the Lithuanian government's representative at the ECHR, said earlier on Thursday that the Court’s decision did not oblige Lithuania to let those individuals in.

According to the Court’s press release, the applicants are citizens of Afghanistan. They arrived in Belarus in August 2021. The migrants alleged that they had fled Afghanistan because, as westernized and educated Afghan nationals, they were particularly vulnerable to Taliban reprisals.

The ECHR was told that the migrants had been unable to enter Lithuania nor to return to Belarus on several occasions and had been thus stranded at the border for some time. Since September 5, they have allegedly been in hiding on Lithuanian territory.

The applicants requested that the Court halt their removal to Belarus. 

Over 4,100 migrants, mainly Iraqis, have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally so far this year.