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August in Lithuania – watchdog’s report

In the beginning of August, the Lithuanian Human Rights Monitoring Institute has joined the address by non-governmental organizations around the world to US President Barack Obama, urging to stop the persecution of Edward Snowden who has leaked surveillance secrets and fled the country. Henrikas Mickevičius, the founder of the institute, said Snowden’s alleged violation of the US law was a result of “higher principles regarding violations of human rights” and should, therefore, be defended.

“Our attitude towards the person is entirely different, we view the individual as the one who reported human rights violations, while the US administration views him as a traitor. In our opinion, it is unfair, as the man may have violated certain rules and possibly US laws, but that followed from higher principles, principles of human rights violations, he is a person who reported human rights violations, and such people are usually defended, not prosecuted,” Mickevičius told BNS on Tuesday. “The United States is a country which is seen by other states as having good human rights standards, and if this is how it treats those reporting (human rights violations), it sets a highly dangerous precedent,” he added.

The Human Rights Monitoring Institute said the address was signed by “more than 120 civil society organizations defending human rights across the globe.” You can read more here (in English).

The European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) further promoting the protection of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and exercising its expert function, organized the international human rights training in Vilnius in the beginning of August. The training was conducted by prominent law experts, such as  dr Fernand de Varenness, dr Elżbieta Kuzborska, and dr Łukasz Wardyn. During the training, the participants deepened their knowledge on the international human rights protection system. The programme of the training included lectures on key issues such as judicial decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union, and the protection of human rights and the rights of national minorities in practice. What is more, the participants could learn about the activities of the European Foundation of Human Rights and its successes. It was open to participants from all sectors and served as a good platform to discuss human rights issues in many areas in Lithuania. Read more here (in English).

While organizing training for many stakeholders in Lithuania, the EFHR also received the training at the 5th International Training SpeakOut 2013, held by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) in Leiden and the Hague in the Netherlands in the second week of August. The conference aimed at gathering in one place the young leaders, experts and students who are greatly interested in the human rights, in order to teach and develop the mutual understanding of the human rights, as well as to acquire the practical knowledge within the scope of the law. The trainings held by the UNPO was a learning experience, opening new horizons and broadening the knowledge of the human rights. “Owing to the fact that the meeting was attended by the enthusiasts from the whole world, my comprehension of the human rights has reached far beyond the European frames”- representative of the EFHR said. Read more about the training here (in English).

Lately, the EFHR has been extensively exercising its intervention and expert functions and assisting individuals with their complaint in front of local, national and international courts and institutions. August was also a busy time for the Foundation. After several months of a lively correspondence, The Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education (SKVC – Studijų kokybės vertinimo centras) of Lithuania acknowledged the arguments of the EFHR, which referred to recognize the validity of the academic degree. This concerned two graduates facing challenges with an official recognition of their foreign diplomas, accredited in other member countries of the European Union. The EFHR prepared the formal complaint against the SKVC about the discriminating decision concerning the lack of the official recognition by the Lithuanian authorities of the Master’s degree of the citizen, R.S., who received her diploma at the German university. After the comparison procedures the SKVC indicated that the degree obtained by R.S. at the German university was regarded as the Bachelor’s Degree. The EFHR successfully intervened:

“I am deeply grateful to the lawyer assistant, Ewelina Baliko, and the European Foundation of Human Rights for their support and efforts to help me (the citizen of Lithuania) to defend my rights” – R.S. gave an exclamation of delight after the positive decision of the Centre.

At the same time, the EFHR helped another person in an identical situation. The Foundation now encourages everyone facing any legal problems, especially with the official recognition of the diplomas and academic degrees obtained within the European Union, to contact them. More about this story here (in English).

Slightly on a different matter and following the case track-record of the EFHR, it is worth mentioning that after another interference against hate speech online and an application submitted to the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Foundation becomes one of the leading actors against hate speech online in Lithuania. Read more about the latest case here (in English). So far 18 penalties altogether have been imposed for the offensive comments on the basis of the applications submitted by the EFHR (over 360 of them) to the Director of Prosecutor’s Office within the scope of the campaign, which aims at suppressing the impunity of all those who infringe on the human rights and the sense of dignity of other citizens. Such actions by the EFHR should be welcomed as a practical strengthening of the protection of the EU Charter of Human Rights in Lithuania. 


Logo funduszy szwajcarskich, Ecorys oraz Euroregion Bałtyk.


This text is a result of a research prepared within the project “Powerful Watchdogs” supported by a grant from Switzerland through the Swiss Contribution to the enlarged European Union. The report aims to show the up-to-date information regarding activity of watchdog organizations in a given country. The author refers to the classification on watchdog functions, to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the international concepts of the transparent governance.


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