Strasbourg, 24 April 2023 — “I call on the Lithuanian Parliament to reject the draft amendments to the Law on the State Border and its Protection, which would legalise the current practices that put persons in need of international protection at risk of pushbacks,” said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović. “Parliamentarians should ensure that the legislative process is guided by human rights standards and concludes with a robust, human rights compliant and protection-oriented legal framework in the area of migration and asylum.”
Referring to her previous recommendations that the national legislation should be brought fully into line with the standards set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, the 1951 Refugee Convention and other key legal instruments, the Commissioner reiterates the importance of strengthening safeguards to uphold the absolute prohibition of refoulement, as well as the prohibition of collective expulsions, and to guarantee effective access to asylum more broadly.
“The protection of the right to life and the prohibition of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment provide the cornerstones of any human rights compliant response to border crossing and must be fully upheld at all times, including in emergency situations. I have received consistent worrying reports of patterns of violence and other human rights violations committed against migrants, including in the context of pushbacks at Lithuania’s border with Belarus. Parliament should contribute to putting a stop to these human rights violations and take the lead in guaranteeing a human rights compliant migration policy. This would also require independent and effective human rights monitoring at borders, removing access restrictions and ensuring the unhindered work of NGOs, as well as the availability of humanitarian assistance at the borders and beyond. I also call on the Parliament to maximise the use of their own tools to address pushback practices, as set out in my Recommendation on this issue.”