United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1997 - Lithuania, 1 January 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a8ba20.html [accessed 26 October 2016]
This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
In 1996, Lithuania took significant steps toward accession to the UN Refugee Convention. Lithuania's Law on Refugee Status, passed in 1995, provides for refugee status determination procedures and an appeals process, but was not implemented in 1996. However, UNHCR reported that by the end of 1996 all of the necessary conditions for implementation, particularly the construction of a refugee reception center, had been met. According to Lithuanian officials, the law was expected to enter into force by May 1997. During 1996, Lithuania detained 1,520 people for illegal entry. Lithuania has not differentiated asylum seekers from undocumented migrants, preferring to view all as illegal entrants, subject to imprisonment. The government reports that only 30 to 40 percent of detained migrants possess passports or other valid travel documents. In September, a Danish immigration official reported that Lithuanian officials had told her that asylum seekers who enter Lithuania illegally are deported at every opportunity. Late in the year, a joint Lithuanian-Danish-UNHCR team preliminarily assessed some of the remaining detainees, determining that more than 60 appeared to need protection. Lithuania has concluded readmission agreements with a number of other countries, including Ukraine (through which about 15 percent of undocumented migrants arrive), Estonia, and Latvia. However, it does not have a readmission agreement with Belarus or the Russian Federation, through which more than 80 percent of undocumented migrants reach Lithuania. This, along with Lithuania's lack of financial resources for returning people to their country of origin, has sparked concerns that Lithuania could be forced to accommodate a growing number of stranded migrants. (On January 21, 1997, the Lithuanian parliament ratified the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol. Lithuania's refugee law, expected to enter into force by May 1997, allows persons to declare their intention to apply for asylum upon crossing the border. It also permits persons who have entered the country illegally to seek asylum, provided they apply within 48 hours of entry.)