HRMI: Human rights in Lithuania absent

  • 2009-01-28
  • By Adam Mullett
VILNIUS - Following reports of worsening human rights worldwide, the Lithuanian Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) director has lambasted the country's leadership, saying that no politicians address human rights in their policies and they do nothing to promote the issue.
"Human rights are absent in their political agenda. Very little attention is paid to it and there is a very narrow understanding of human rights in this country, therefore there are no human rights violations [recorded]," Director of the HRMI Henrikas Mickevicius told The Baltic Times.
The statements follow a report by Human Rights Watch International, which said the human rights situation worldwide is worsening.

The Lithuania-based HRMI in turn said Lithuania's domestic and foreign policy agenda hasn't ensured adequate human rights protection.
"There is no human rights policy in the country 's that's the main message," Mickevicius said.
He said that the government doesn't act, and that progress on the issue came to a standstill after Lithuania adopted laws required by NATO and the European Union to gain membership in the blocs.
"There is no real understanding that human rights are important in the real world. What we have is all the papers and documents that say we have these things in place, but in reality no. If we don't look after this, the democracy will be a facade, not a real one," Mickevicius said.

Valdas Dambrava, spokesman for the Equal Opportunity Ombudsman, told The Baltic Times the theoretical guidelines seldom translate into reality.
"Theoretically, on paper, of course we have human rights. But in reality, there is a difference, especially when wages between men and women are concerned," he said.

Mickevicius said privacy isn't respected in Lithuania, providing examples of the lack of security in biometric identity documents and surveillance systems, which haven't proved to be of utility in other EU member states, also noting the possibility for employers to monitor staff e-mails and Internet surfing tendencies.
He said that these sorts of human rights violations lead to emigration.
"Research at Vytautas Magnus University was done asking why emigres of Lithuania don't come back [to Lithuania], and the results showed clearly that the emigres feel more respected, more protected and more free in other countries. It was not because they were better off financially," he said.

Mickevicius also noted incidences of racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and discrimination in 2008, citing the attack on popular singer Berneen and the skinhead march on Lithuania's Independence Day of March 11.
The Human Rights Monitoring Institute is an NGO that monitors the implementation of human rights protection, informs the public of human rights violations and the possibilities to defend violated rights and monitors human rights activity on the part of state institutions and courts.