The latest Legal Note provides ECRE’s assessment of recent changes to asylum legislation in Lithuania and their impact, with reference to compliance with EU and international law.

The amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens adopted in July and August 2021 introduced significant changes to the asylum system. Some of the changes run contrary to Lithuania’s obligations under international and EU law. Others create a situation that is conducive to violating the right to asylum and the principle of non-refoulement and to undermining the fairness and efficiency of the asylum procedures. While some of the amendments are linked to situations of war, state of emergency or extraordinary situations and will therefore be applicable on a temporary basis, others will apply permanently.

Changes in law and practice in Lithuania may result in limited access to the asylum procedure, automatic detention of asylum applicants, restrictions on the right to appeal, and restrictions on other rights of people seeking asylum.

ECRE is alarmed by these recent developments in law and practice which risk undermining the institution of asylum in Lithuania. This Legal Note provides an analysis of the most problematic aspects of the recent legislative amendments to the Aliens Law, illustrated, where possible, by the practice that has followed these amendments. The analysis is based on publicly available information and the publicly expressed positions of international, national and non-governmental organisations.

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.