Strasbourg 17.02.2010 – The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, published today letters sent to the Prime Minister of Lithuania and to the Speaker of the Seimas (Parliament) on discrimination issues, minority rights and steps taken to investigate whether the CIA detained terrorist suspects on Lithuanian territory.
The letters follow the Commissioner’s visit to Lithuania last October in which he held discussions with the President and the Prime Minister, as well as other representatives of the national authorities and civil society representatives.
In his letters, the Commissioner cautions against the adoption of legislative provisions which would contain unduly broad restrictions on speech or freedom of assembly, or which would discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. Efforts should be made to increase public awareness of the situation of groups which are subjected to discrimination or intolerance, and to encourage respect for everyone’s rights.
As regards the rights of national minorities, the Commissioner notes that the decision of the Constitutional Court to allow the possibility to transcribe names of persons in a minority language on passports was a positive step, and expresses the hope that an acceptable solution will be found for the use of minority languages for bilingual topographical indications.
The Commissioner also welcomes the parliamentary investigation into the alleged existence in Lithuania of a secret detention centre for terrorist suspects which in fact demonstrated that there indeed was cooperation with the US security services in the preparation of such a facility in the country.
Finally, the Commissioner recommends the ratification by Lithuania of Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights, containing a general prohibition of discrimination, and the acceptance of the collective complaints procedure under the European Social Charter.