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 subjected to forced theft in foreign countries. Forty percent of identified Lithuanian trafficking victims are women and girls who are sex trafficking victims exploited within Lithuania. Lithuanian women are also the victims of sex trafficking in the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, France, and the Czech Republic. 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. The government ensured that all trafficking offenders convicted this year were sentenced to prison terms commensurate with the gravity of crime committed. In prevention activities, the government reinstituted its national working group and adopted innovative new software to enhance its ability to investigate human trafficking offenses. However, the Lithuanian government struggled to investigate and prosecute labor trafficking offenses. The number of victims identified by the government decreased by approximately 50 percent. The government's funding of victim assistance programs increased modestly over the previous year, though it remained inadequate.
Recommendations for Lithuania: Improve efforts to investigate and prosecute suspected trafficking offenses, including forced labor offenses; increase funding or provide in-kind support to NGOs that provide victim protection services; continue to proactively identify victims of trafficking and refer them to NGO service providers; and increase public awareness efforts targeted at potential adult victims of trafficking.
The Government of Lithuania demonstrated mixed anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Lithuania prohibits human trafficking through Articles 147 and 157 of its criminal code, which prescribe penalties ranging from a fine up to 12 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. This year, the government amended sections of its criminal law covering trafficking to harmonize them with international law. Prosecution of human trafficking cases remained a challenge for the Lithuanian government, as there were reports that law enforcement officers and investigators, especially in rural areas, lacked experience in investigating trafficking cases and identifying trafficking victims. Prosecutions were also hampered by victims' reluctance to seek help or participate in the criminal process.
Lithuanian authorities initiated seven sex trafficking investigations in 2010, compared with 11 investigations initiated in 2009. Two labor trafficking investigations pending from 2008 were closed due to insufficient evidence; no new labor trafficking investigations were initiated. Authorities prosecuted 20 offenders in 2010, an increase from the 14 offenders prosecuted in 2009. Nine trafficking offenders were convicted in 2010, in contrast to 14 trafficking offenders convicted in 2009. However, the Government of Lithuania improved its sentencing practices in trafficking cases; in 2010, all convicted trafficking offenders received time in prison for their offenses, with sentences ranging from seven to 11 years in prison. In 2009, 12 of the 14 convicted traffickers were issued sentences ranging from two to nine years' imprisonment, while two traffickers served no time in prison. During the reporting period, the Lithuanian government collaborated with several governments on international investigations of trafficking, including the UK, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Belgium, Belarus, and the Netherlands. In 2010, an Albanian citizen who was suspected of human trafficking in Lithuania was extradited to Lithuania to face prosecution. The government did not report the investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of any public official complicit in human trafficking.
The Lithuanian government demonstrated mixed efforts to assist victims of human trafficking during the reporting period. The government allocated $35,000 to NGOs for trafficking victim assistance in 2010, an increase from 2009, in which it allocated no funding to victim assistance; nevertheless, this represented a decrease from $150,000 provided in 2008. The financial support for victim assistance is the lowest in the Baltic region. The Lithuanian government identified 22 trafficking victims during the reporting period, including three child victims. All trafficking victims were referred to NGOs for care. The rate of identification was significantly lower than in 2009, when government officials identified and referred 57 trafficking victims for assistance. During the reporting period, NGOs reported assisting approximately 150 victims of trafficking. Female trafficking victims were housed and cared for in mostly mixed-use facilities throughout the country. These victims were not detained involuntarily in these shelters. NGOs reported that there were no shelters available for men or boys, although the Men's Crisis Center was available to provide various victim services, except shelter, for abused men, including any trafficking victims. Although the government employed formal procedures to guide officials in identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations – such as women in prostitution, street children, and undocumented migrants – NGOs reported that these procedures were generally ineffective. NGOs suggested that the absence of a single government agency delegated to identify victims of trafficking contributed to problems in victim identification. Although the "Law on the legal status of aliens," Article 49(1), allowed the government to grant foreign trafficking victims a six month temporary residency permit if they agreed to participate in criminal proceedings, no trafficking victims took advantage of the residency provisions. Nevertheless, the Lithuanian government and NGOs reported that victims were encouraged to participate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers; 22 victims assisted in investigations in 2010. There were reports that victim protection requested by NGOs was not provided by police forces. However, 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.
The Lithuanian government demonstrated some new prevention efforts during the reporting period. In April 2010, the government reconvened its multi-agency working group on trafficking in persons, bringing together relevant government actors on human trafficking. The government did not include NGOs in the working group. The Government of Lithuania had a national program to combat trafficking in the years 2009-2012, but NGOs reported that the national plan was not effectively implemented in 2009 and 2010. The government publicly reported on its national anti-trafficking activities through the national coordinator at the Ministry of Interior. In 2010, the Lithuanian government implemented a project to enhance its data collection and analysis capabilities. The project links the Lithuanian police force's data with that of INTERPOL and Europol, enabling the government to better conduct systematic analysis of trafficking within and from Lithuania. Lithuanian law enforcement officers continued their outreach to schools to educate children on trafficking.