Covering events from January-December 2001

Republic of Lithuania
Head of state: Valdas Adamkus
Head of government: Algirdas Mikolas Brazauskas (replaced Rolandas Paksas in July)
Capital: Vilnius
Population: 3.7 million
Official language: Lithuanian
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes

There were reports of torture and ill-treatment by officials of people deprived of their liberty and allegations of ill-treatment of children.

Torture and ill-treatment

The report of the first visit of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) to Lithuania in February 2000 was made public in October 2001. During the 10-day visit the CPT inspected various places where people are deprived of their liberty, including police stations, police detention centres, prisons and a detention centre for foreign nationals.

The CPT stated that while it appeared that there had been a marked improvement in the treatment of detainees by police, "... a significant proportion of the persons interviewed alleged that they had been ill-treated while in police custody". The alleged ill-treatment consisted mainly of slaps, punches, kicks and blows and mostly occurred before, during and after interrogation. The CPT noted: "[i]n certain cases, the ill-treatment alleged – e.g. partial suffocation by placing a rubber gas mask over the person's face and severe beating – could be qualified as torture."

The CPT also received frequent allegations of the use of excessive force by police officers during arrest. It recommended that a very high priority be given to the professional training of police officers of all ranks, emphasizing that ill-treatment was incompatible with the Lithuanian Constitution and international human rights standards, and that the authorities should make it clear to police officers that ill-treatment of detainees would be dealt with severely.

No allegations of torture and relatively few allegations of ill-treatment were heard from inmates in the prisons visited by the CPT. However, the CPT considered that improvements could be made regarding the material conditions of imprisonment, such as the quality of health care and prisoners' access to work, education and recreational activities. Overcrowding was cited as a significant problem.


In January the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reviewed Lithuania's initial report on steps the authorities had taken to implement the UN Children's Convention, to which Lithuania became a state party in 1992. Among the Committee's main concerns was the widespread use of corporal punishment within the family as well as in institutions such as schools. The Committee recommended that measures be taken to prohibit the use of corporal punishment in these contexts and to raise awareness of the harmful effects of corporal punishment. It also recommended that the authorities ensure that cases of domestic violence and ill-treatment of children, including sexual abuse, were properly investigated.

The Committee also expressed deep concern about the lack of data, consistent policies and rehabilitation and reintegration programs for child victims of trafficking. It urged the authorities to take greater steps to fully implement their national program against the commercial sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children.

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