Lithuania follows ECHR precedent in turning away migrants, PM says

  • 2021-11-11
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania is following the precedent set by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) providing for exceptions when the tactic of turning away migrants can be used,  Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Thursday.  

She was commenting on reports that the European Commission will likely demand that Poland, Latvia and Lithuania amend their laws that allow pushing migrants back into Belarus.

"This is not Brussels' position or someone else's opposition. There is a precedent of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Spain and Morocco, where the procedures, the precedent, the circumstances in which this tactic can be applied are clearly stated," Simonyte told reporters.  

"And my understanding is that what is happening at the eastern border of the Republic of Lithuania and the Republic of Poland is absolutely what the court's judgement says," she added, 

The Brussels-based news website EUobserver reported on Wednesday that the Commission would likely demand that the three countries amend their laws.

"We are still in assessment, but I think that we will ask for amendments in some of the legislations," it quoted Johansson as saying.

The commissioner did not say when the Commission might demand the respective changes or on which specific points.

However, her comments came amid broader concerns over the legality of turning migrants and prospective asylum seekers back to Belarus.

In early August, Lithuanian border guards started redirecting migrants caught attempting to cross the border illegally to official border crossing points. Migrants can also apply for asylum at Vilnius' embassy in Minsk. 

Some critics say that these actions can be considered as pushbacks, which violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

Over 4,200 irregular migrants, mostly Iraqi citizens, have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally so far this year.

Lithuania and other Western countries accuse the Minsk regime of orchestrating the unprecedented migration influx, calling it "hybrid aggression".