U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Lithuania
Lithuania (Tier 1)
Lithuania is a source and transit country for women and children trafficked to Germany, Spain, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, and Poland for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Women are trafficked for sexual exploitation into and through Lithuania from countries such as Ukraine, Russia (Kaliningrad), and Belarus, and within Lithuania. Boarding schools, which also serve as orphanages, are a new target of traffickers searching for victims.
The Government of Lithuania fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government demonstrated a strong commitment throughout the reporting period through increased funding for anti-trafficking efforts and sustained law enforcement activities. To further strengthen anti-trafficking efforts, the government should establish formal screening and referral mechanisms to ensure that victims receive adequate assistance services, and ensure that police and social workers remain vigilant in identifying and addressing the needs of trafficked individuals as victims.
Lithuania's criminal code has prohibited trafficking in persons since 1998. The new criminal code that came into force in May 2003 includes eight articles that address trafficking with sufficiently severe penalties. Each of the 10 counties in Lithuania assigned a police officer to coordinate trafficking issues. During the reporting period, Lithuanian authorities initiated 15 new criminal investigations and convicted a total of 13 traffickers as compared to eight in 2002. Trafficking sentences ranged from fines to 14 years' imprisonment, with an average sentence of two to three years' imprisonment. While there was no official evidence of government involvement in or tolerance of trafficking in persons, some individual police officers may condone it. A 2003 court decision reduced the sentence of a former police officer convicted of trafficking in persons from seven years in prison to two years' probation, citing a lack of evidence. Lithuanian law enforcement officials continued to cooperate with other governments on trafficking investigations and participated in over 25 joint investigations in 2003.
Several government agencies and organizations provide social, psychological, and legal assistance to trafficking victims. In addition to shelters run by NGOs, the city of Vilnius and some other municipalities operated hostels to provide shelter and social support to victims of domestic violence and trafficking victims. No formal screening and referral procedures are used, but police cooperate with assistance providers as appropriate. Over 200 trafficking victims are estimated to have received assistance at shelters in Lithuania during the reporting period. In July 2003, the government established and provided funds for a pilot program, called "Psychological Rehabilitation, Professional Orientation, and Employment of Victims of Trafficking and Prostitution," to work with individual victims. Police did not charge trafficking victims with prostitution and immigration violations during the reporting period. The Police Department's "Witness and Victims Protection Service" provides protection to a limited number of victims. Trafficking victims and witnesses composed 13% of all protected people in 2003. The government routinely provides its embassies and consulates in destination and transit countries guidance on handling trafficking cases and assisting victims. The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs assisted 20 trafficking victims to return to Lithuania during the reporting period.
The government continued to fund its Program on the Control and Prevention of Trafficking in Humans and Prostitution. The Lithuanian Government also provided funds to 11 local organizations involved in prevention in 2003, as compared to five in 2002. It cooperated closely with NGOs and international organizations to implement several major anti-trafficking projects in 2003. With the support of the IOM and the Nordic Council of Ministers, the government developed and approved trafficking prevention curricula for schools, prepared a guide for teachers, and distributed a brochure to familiarize young girls with the dangers of trafficking. The curricula and guide are used on a voluntary basis in schools and areas where trafficking in persons is recognized by the municipality and/or school as a problem. The Lithuanian Government, in conjunction with IOM, trained over 300 social workers, teachers, and municipal leaders in TIP prevention during the reporting period.