A parliamentary investigation concluded that Lithuanian officials co-operated in the construction of a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) secret prison in Lithuania during the US-led “war on terror”. A new law banned materials from schools that might promote same-sex and other relationships. The UN Committee against Torture criticized the government for not incorporating the crime of torture into domestic law.
Counter-terror and security
The authorities came under international scrutiny in August and November following allegations that up to eight terrorist suspects were held and questioned in secret by the CIA in 2004 and 2005 in a detention facility in Antaviliai, near Vilnius. A subsequent investigation by the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence reported in December that state security officials had assisted in constructing a secret prison for terrorist suspects on Lithuanian territory. However, the Committee did not establish that suspects were actually imprisoned and interrogated there. It concluded that CIA aircraft had landed without border checks and that security officials had failed to notify the President or the Prime Minister, in violation of domestic law. Human rights groups called for the investigation to continue and to determine whether human rights violations were committed in relation to the secret prison.
Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
In July parliament adopted the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information, despite a presidential veto in June. The law, to come into effect in March 2010, banned from schools, public places and the media any materials that “agitate for homosexual, bisexual and polygamous relations” and could be viewed by children. The law was widely criticized as institutionalizing homophobia and violating the rights to freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination. The EU suggested it might infringe the Treaty on European Union, which provides sanctions against member states that violate “EU common values”. No final parliamentary vote on a proposal to remove its discriminatory provisions had taken place by the end of the year.
The UN Committee against Torture expressed concern in January at reports of the prolonged pre-trial and administrative detention of minors and adults and the resulting high risk of ill-treatment. The Committee noted that detention conditions remained poor, with several cases of overcrowding, lack of hygiene and unsuitable infrastructures. It called for torture as defined by the UN Convention against Torture to be made a crime under domestic law.