Baltic nation accused of racially profiling asylum seekers — Analysis
Amnesty states that Lithuania exploits African and Middle East refugees as the EU ignores them.
Amnesty International published a damning report last Monday saying that Lithuania took a racist and illegal approach to migrants from the Middle East and Africa who had flooded its borders with Belarus. Brussels was also reprehensible.
Amnesty expressed concern about “institutional racism embedded within Lithuania’s migration system”After noticing a stark contrast in the treatment of Ukrainian refugees with those from other countries, I decided to write this article.
“While Lithuania has rightly extended a warm welcome to tens of thousands of people fleeing Ukraine, the experience of the detainees we spoke with could not be more different,”Nils Muiznieks was Europe Regional Director at Amnesty International. “This raises serious concerns about institutional racism embedded within Lithuania’s migration system.”
The 65-page report titled “Lithuania: Forced Out or Locked Up” is based on interviews with dozens of people that came from countries including Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria and Sri Lanka. Amnesty stated that it visited two refugee centers, which are effectively jails.
According to the human rights watchdog, it was awarded “numerous reports of ill-treatment, some amounting to torture, and disproportionate use of force”The two facilities were guarded by security personnel. Guard dogs bit the guard dogs and beat detainees with batons. Sub-Saharan African woman claims guards threatened to take her into the woods and kill her.
Additionally, they studied “disturbing video footage” of a police raid on the Medininkai Foreigners’ Registration Center in March, after a protest about poor conditions there. It said that black women were made to wear half-naked clothes and left in the freezing cold by police.
Amnesty’s second investigation into the Kybartai prison found that it was used until September 2021 as a prison. There were barbed wire fences, other security measures, and a Kybartai Center. Overcrowded, the facility had no toilets or showers. Men were limited in movement within the camp. The report stated that people at the Medininkai center had to travel over snow to get to their toilets.
Lithuania passed emergency legislation on August 20, 2021 in response to the refugee crisis along its border with Belarus. This was blamed by the EU and Minsk. Many hundreds of refugees were held in detention while thousands were violently forced back to Belarus. Report said that Lithuania had the power to arrest any irregular migrants automatically and place them in prison for a year.
Amnesty noted that Lithuania did not provide adequate legal support for refugees. The same Migration Department employs lawyers to represent them, which they should challenge. This arrangement was called a “sham”Due to an obvious conflict of interests
“A year after Lithuania tried to legalize the illegal, the European Commission still has not taken any action to bring Lithuania’s legislation into line with EU law,” Nils Muiznieks commented “For as long as the European Commission stands idle, it sends a message to member states that EU laws can be violated with impunity.”