U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Lithuania
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||3 June 2005|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Lithuania, 3 June 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d851c.html [accessed 28 December 2014]|
Lithuania (Tier 1)
Lithuania is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children primarily trafficked to large cities in Europe for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Victims are trafficked to and through Lithuania from countries such as Ukraine, Russia (Kaliningrad), and Belarus. Traffickers continued to target Lithuanian boarding schools, which also serve as orphanages, to recruit victims.
The Government of Lithuania fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the reporting period, the government increased trafficking-related convictions, augmented funds for anti-trafficking programs, and assisted more victims. Still, overall trafficking convictions and sentences remained low, and some NGOs called for greater government funding of victim protection programs. To further strengthen anti-trafficking efforts, the government should consider establishing a specialized anti-trafficking law enforcement unit, formalize screening and referral mechanisms, and increase sensitivity training for police. The Lithuanian Government should consider expanding its prevention program to include domestic demand-reduction programs.
In 2004, the Government of Lithuania in 2004 opened 22 new investigations, involving 25 traffickers, up from 15 investigations in 2003. During that period, the courts prosecuted 16 trafficking cases and convicted 14 individuals with sentences ranging from fines to three years' imprisonment. Lithuania's Criminal Code penalized trafficking with prison sentences of up to ten years in cases of trafficking in children. In March 2005, a Vilnius court finalized the extradition of a Costa Rican wanted by Costa Rican authorities for trafficking children in that country. In 2004, Lithuanian law enforcement officials participated in trafficking-related training in Norway, Belarus, the Netherlands, Ukraine, and Sweden. Lithuania's law enforcement training center provided four hours of anti-trafficking training biannually to all new officers. While there was no official evidence of government involvement in or tolerance of trafficking in persons, some individual police officers may condone it. Lithuanian law enforcement officials continued to cooperate with other governments on trafficking investigations and participated in 23 joint trafficking investigations in 2004.
The Lithuanian Government provided grants to 13 of the approximately 20 NGOs that offer trafficking victims assistance or temporary shelter – up from 11 in 2003. Experts estimated over 300 trafficking victims received support in 2004. No formal screening and referral procedures existed, but police cooperation with assistance providers was adequate. The police signed an agreement of cooperation in December 2004 with one NGO that provided shelter and social assistance to 17 trafficking victims. The government provided 30 trafficking victims with counseling and occupational training under its rehabilitation and orientation program established in July 2003. In 2004, trafficking victims and witnesses composed 13 to 14 percent of all protected people in the police department's protection program. Police did not charge trafficking victims as criminal violators in 2004, and the government submitted to the parliament in February 2005 new draft legislation to guarantee formal protections for victims. The government continued to provide guidance to its overseas posts on the handling of trafficking cases; the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs assisted in the repatriation of 42 trafficking victims during the reporting period, up from 20 in 2003.
The government and local NGOs organized a series of educational events for more than 200 boarding school students who are particularly at risk for trafficking. An NGO that received approximately half of its annual budget from government funding distributed over 82,000 anti-trafficking brochures and posters throughout Lithuania, and implemented over ten trafficking prevention programs in 2004. Schools continued to use the anti-trafficking curricula on a voluntary basis. Lithuania's first National Strategy to combat trafficking ended in 2004; an interagency group drafted a National Strategy for 2005 to 2008 that is expected to receive official approval in spring 2005.