U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Lithuania
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||5 June 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Lithuania, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d89962.html [accessed 31 January 2015]|
Lithuania (Tier 1)
Lithuania is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Commercial sexual exploitation of children is a significant problem. Official and NGO sources estimate that between 10 and 20 percent of persons working in prostitution are under the age of 18. Data collected by Europol indicates that more than 1,200 Lithuanian women are trafficked abroad annually, although NGOs claim higher estimates. One-third of Lithuanian victims are trafficked to the United Kingdom. Lithuania also serves as a transit point and destination for victims trafficked from Belarus, Russia (Kaliningrad region), and Ukraine.
The Government of Lithuania fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the reporting period, the government significantly increased trafficking convictions, increased financial support to NGOs, strengthened its criminal code on trafficking, and established a specialized anti-trafficking police unit. Despite government efforts, sex trafficking remains a serious problem in Lithuania. The IOM also documented an increase in child trafficking following Lithuania's accession to the European Union, based on the number of victims under the age of 18 that it assisted. To sustain and build on its anti-trafficking efforts, the government should increase the number of trainings for law enforcement officials and prosecutors so they may possess the necessary skills to successfully convict traffickers. In addition, an official victim screening and referral mechanism should be put in place to assist in the transfer of victims from the police to NGOs. Judges should also be given trafficking awareness training in order to prevent traffickers from receiving low or suspended sentences.
The Government of Lithuania continued to improve its law enforcement efforts. In 2005, authorities initiated 32 trafficking investigations, an increase from 22 in 2004. Authorities conducted 18 prosecutions involving 43 defendants, up from 16 prosecutions in 2004. Twenty traffickers were convicted in 2005, an increase from 14 convictions in 2004. Despite this progress, the number of convicted traffickers serving time in prison remained low; nine traffickers served time in prison, seven convicted traffickers received suspended sentences, two traffickers received amnesty, and two received fines. In 2005, law enforcement officials cooperated in 172 international trafficking investigations. Lithuania amended its criminal code to expand the definition of human trafficking and strengthen statutory penalties.
The Lithuanian Government continued to improve its efforts to protect victims of trafficking. It increased its total funding to NGOs working to provide victim assistance from $90,000 in 2004 to $137,000 in 2005; it provided funding to 11 NGOs that assisted more than 300 trafficking victims during the reporting period. Local municipalities provide social, psychological, and legal assistance to victims. The witness protection program assisted a small number of trafficking victims, but officials agreed that more funding for the program is needed.
Lithuania continued to make progress in trafficking prevention. The government cooperated with NGOs and IOM on trafficking outreach and information programs directed toward at-risk groups, potential trafficking victims, and the procurers of prostitution. Posters and billboards about the dangers of trafficking were displayed in public areas and some schools conducted class discussions about trafficking. Although not part of the formal school curriculum, more than 3,800 at-risk youths attended government and NGO-organized trafficking prevention events including lectures, school discussions, and film viewings. Parliament also passed new legislation that addresses demand by criminalizing the buying of sex.