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2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Lithuania

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Lithuania, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30cb3c3.html [accessed 22 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis 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.

LITHUANIA (Tier 1)

Lithuania is a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking. There were also government reports that Lithuanian boys and girls were forced to steal in foreign countries and that Lithuanian men were subjected to forced labor. NGOs estimated that 40 percent of identified Lithuanian trafficking victims are women and girls subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Lithuanian women are also victims of sex trafficking in the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and the Czech Republic. Prosecutors estimate that over 1,200 women from Lithuania become victims of trafficking each year. Lithuanian women and girls from orphanages and state-run foster homes, as well as women with mental or psychological disabilities, are victims of trafficking in persons. A small number of women from Russia and Belarus are transported through Lithuania en route to Western Europe, where they are subsequently subjected to forced prostitution.

The Government of Lithuania fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. In 2011, the Lithuanian government doubled its victim identifications, tripled its anti-trafficking investigations, and ensured that all convicted trafficking offenders were sentenced to time in prison. The government also significantly increased funding for victim care and provided in-kind assistance to NGOs providing services to trafficking victims. Nevertheless, funding remained low for the extent of the trafficking problem in Lithuania and the government still struggled to provide sustainable support to NGOs administering care to victims of trafficking. Law enforcement actions increased in quantity but were uneven in practice, and NGOs reported that victim identification procedures were generally ineffective. Some law enforcement officials remained unaware that child prostitution is considered a form of human trafficking under Lithuanian and international law. Efforts to address labor trafficking lagged behind efforts to combat sex trafficking; the government did not begin any labor trafficking investigations in 2011.

Recommendations for Lithuania: Amend criminal law to prohibit forced begging and forced criminal behavior under the trafficking statute; continue to intensify efforts to proactively identify victims of trafficking, particularly victims of labor trafficking and children in prostitution; vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, including labor trafficking offenses; ensure effective training of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges on anti-trafficking principles; sustainably fund NGOs to provide victim protection; integrate an anti-trafficking module into the basic training of the police; improve consular efforts to ensure that victims identified abroad are referred to care in Lithuania, including by ensuring sensitivity of consular officers to trafficking victims; ensure that victims of trafficking are provided with stronger protection during the course of trial; ensure that victims of trafficking are never required to fund their own travel to trial; monitor trials to ensure that trafficking victims are treated sensitively in the course of trial; ensure that male trafficking victims are offered equal access to care and treatment; intensify efforts to increase public awareness and disapproval of trafficking in persons; intensify public awareness to help the general population understand that Lithuanians can be victims of trafficking within their own country; and fund an anti-trafficking hotline.

Prosecution

The Government of Lithuania demonstrated improved anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period by increasing investigations and prosecutions, although there were reports that the Lithuanian prosecution efforts were hampered by inconsistencies in investigative skills and in the level of sensitivity shown to trafficking victims. Lithuania prohibits most forms of human trafficking through articles 147 and 157 of its criminal code, which prescribe penalties ranging from a fine to 12 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Another section of the criminal code covers the forced criminal behavior of children; the Ministry of Justice initiated amendments to the anti-trafficking statute to incorporate forced criminal behavior in order to comply with the EU Trafficking Directive. Lithuanian authorities initiated 21 sex trafficking investigations in 2011, compared with seven such investigations initiated in 2010. The government did not investigate any labor trafficking cases in 2011. During the last year, authorities prosecuted 37 offenders, an increase from the 20 offenders prosecuted in 2010. Seventeen trafficking offenders were convicted in 2011, an increase from nine trafficking offenders convicted in 2010. All convicted trafficking offenders were sentenced to time in prison, with terms ranging from two to 10 years' imprisonment. In 2010, the government punished offenders with sentences ranging from seven to 11 years in prison. Expertise in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases remained uneven throughout Lithuania; while specialized units in Lithuania were skilled in trafficking investigations, law enforcement officers and investigators in rural areas sometimes lacked experience in investigating trafficking cases and identifying trafficking victims. Law enforcement officers inconsistently understood that third-party involvement in child prostitution should be prosecuted under the trafficking statute. Prosecutions were also hampered by victims' reluctance to seek help or participate in the criminal process. NGOs observed that some judges' discrimination against victims of trafficking made the victims hesitant to testify in criminal trials. Trafficking in persons has not been integrated into basic police training. In 2011, the Lithuanian government collaborated with foreign governments, including Ukraine, in six international trafficking investigations. The Government of Lithuania extradited one person for human trafficking. The government did not report the investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of any public official complicit in human trafficking.

Protection

The Lithuanian government demonstrated improved efforts to assist victims of human trafficking during the reporting period. The government allocated the equivalent of $60,000 to NGOs for trafficking victim assistance in 2011, a significant increase from the 2010 financial allocation of the equivalent to $35,000. The government also provided in-kind support to NGOs caring for trafficking victims, including the use of government buildings. Despite the increase, funding for victim care was still low for the number of Lithuanian victims of trafficking identified. The Lithuanian government identified 45 trafficking victims during the reporting period, more than double the 22 victims of trafficking identified in 2010. The government did not report identifying labor trafficking victims. All identified trafficking victims were referred to NGOs for care. During the reporting period, NGOs reported assisting approximately 130 victims of trafficking, approximately level with the 150 victims of trafficking assisted in 2010. Lithuania's victim care facilities are primarily operated by NGOs, sometimes with municipal funding. Most of these are mixed-use facilities that also serve domestic violence victims. Victims could leave the government-funded shelters at their own will and without a chaperone. There were no shelters available for men or boys; men's crisis centers were available to provide other victim services to abused men, including any trafficking victims. NGOs complained about the lack of sufficient funding provided by the government to fully carry out their obligations of victim care. Although government officials employed formal procedures to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations – such as women in prostitution, street children, and undocumented migrants – NGOs reported that these procedures were generally ineffective. The Law on the Legal Status of Aliens allows officials to grant foreign trafficking victims a six-month temporary residency permit if they agree to participate in criminal proceedings. However, only one trafficking victim received a temporary residence permit in 2011. The government reported that Lithuanian victims were encouraged to participate in trafficking investigations; the majority of the 45 identified victims participated in the prosecution of trafficking offenders in 2011. Nevertheless, NGOs reported that victims of trafficking were sometimes reluctant to participate in trials because, at times, they were obliged to fund their own travel to trial. In November 2011, the government organized a two-day training program on trafficking victim assistance for approximately 50 social workers from Vilnius and Kaunas. There were no reports that any identified trafficking victims were detained, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a result of their being trafficked; concerns persisted that, to the extent that law enforcement officials did not fully understand that children in prostitution were considered to be trafficking victims, these children may have been subject to penalties for their participation in prostitution.

Prevention

The Lithuanian government improved its prevention efforts during the reporting period. The government sustained partnerships with NGOs through joint organization of approximately 35 anti-trafficking events, including seminars and public lectures, involving over 400 specialists. The government did not undertake any broad-based public awareness campaigns to raise the profile of its trafficking problem. There was reportedly low public awareness of trafficking. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized anti-trafficking training for 36 consular officials. Lithuanian police continued their outreach to school children to educate them on trafficking. The government continued to convene its multiagency working group to address trafficking. The Government of Lithuania reported that not all planned activities from the national action plan of 2009-2012 were implemented in 2011 because of budget constraints. NGOs claimed that the national action plan was not implemented effectively in 2011. The Lithuanian government made some efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex, including by penalizing the purchasers of sexual services with fines.

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