Norway thanks Lithuania for its presentation of the national report. We appreciate the efforts of Lithuania to further enhance the protection of human rights. Much has been achieved, but some areas continue to have our attention:
Norway is concerned about the negative attitudes in the population of Lithuania towards minorities, in particular sexual minorities. We recommend that Lithuania rejects non-tolerant attitudes, and considers a strategy on balanced and objective information to the population, i.e. through the education system, attitude campaigns, and political statements.
There is a balance to be struck between the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression and the right to equal treatment and non discrimination. We recommend that Lithuania carefully considers whether the right balance is struck when the main street of Vilnius is made available for annual marches by neo-Nazis on Independence Day, whilst vulnerable groups like the LGBT society are refused to use the same venue, and are referred to less attractive locations.
We are pleased that Lithuania has expanded the mandate of the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson beyond gender equality. However we are concerned about the leverage of this and other human rights institutions like the Children’s Ombudsperson and the Inspector for Journalists’ Ethics. We recommend exploring the possibilities to further strengthen the competence, role and mandate of the human rights protection offices.
Norway takes note of the changes of the education law to increase the proportion of Lithuanian language in minority schools. We sympathize with the motivation of better preparing minority students for equal possibilities i.e. at the labour market. We assume Lithuania will maintain focus on complying with international obligations, and recommend a close dialogue with the minorities in question.
We note that domestic violence unfortunately is a problem of significance. We recognize Lithuania’s efforts to combat such violence, including recent legislation passed by the Seimas, and encourage a further increase of these efforts as well as active implementation of the new legislation.
Finally, Norway recommends even closer co-operation with the civil society on human rights related issues.