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1.1.2007

Irregular Migration

Since 1990, Lithuania has been a destination and transit country as well as a country of origin for irregular migration. In 2005, 150 individuals were detained for either entering the country illegally or for staying in Lithuania without a valid residence permit. [1]

This figure is significantly below the number of detentions in previous years (2002: 329; 2003: 283; 2004: 254). The great majority of detainees in these years came from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. Among Asian countries of origin in this period, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Vietnam are well represented.

In the context of combating irregular migration, repatriation agreements have been signed with the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Croatia, the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Armenia. Furthermore, in February 2002 higher fines were introduced for entering, crossing, remaining in and leaving the country without authorisation. Those who assist irregular residence by providing accommodation or a job may also be fined.

Human trafficking

Among the Baltic States, Lithuania is and always has been the country most affected by human trafficking. [2] The problem has worsened since the Baltic State joined the EU. This has been attributed to, firstly, a lack of electronic means of registration to assist in the search for missing persons, and secondly, the fact that only a small number of human traffickers were prosecuted.

According to Europol, approximately 1 200 Lithuanian women become victims of human trafficking each year. Victims are sexually exploited both in Lithuania and in Western European countries. For a long time Germany was the main country of destination for Lithuanian victims of human traffickers. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), however, the United Kingdom is now the country where most Lithuanian victims are picked up.

With a programme to research the causes of human trafficking in Lithuania, the government has taken action against this form of exploitation since 2002. The programme, in cooperation with European partners, aims to intensify the search for missing persons, to gather and publish relevant data, and to support an information campaign aimed specifically at women. It serves as a platform for many local projects and has developed successfully over the past years. In this context, victims of forced prostitution are offered rehabilitation measures, including psychological and medical care, temporary accommodation and material support. In the year 2005, a total of 13 local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were given financial support to care for victims of forced prostitution and trafficking.

In the year 2003, Lithuania ratified the protocols to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the UN Convention against transnational organised crime. In the same year, the penal legislation for human trafficking was intensified. According to the US State Department, in 2005 there were 13 convictions with sentences ranging from fines to fourteen years┬┤ imprisonment.

At the end of 2005, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in cooperation with the British Embassy in Riga and the US State Department, adopted a two-year programme intended to improve the institutional and legal framework in the fight against irregular migration and human trafficking.

Fußnoten

1.
See Migration Department (2006).
2.
See International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (2006).

Benjamin Brake

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