The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has released its concluding observations on Lithuania's efforts to protect economic, social, and cultural rights. While the committee welcomes positive developments such as the Constitutional Court’s ruling recognizing gender identity and sexual orientation among the prohibited grounds for discrimination and the adoption of action plans for Roma communities, it also highlights several concerns.
Legal system needs human rights training
One of the committee's major concerns is the lack of specialized training on the Covenant for judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and law enforcement personnel. The committee recommends that Lithuania provides regular training on the provisions of the Covenant and raises awareness among all relevant state actors. The CESCR also recommends that the Parliamentary Ombudsperson's Office be strengthened to carry out its mandate effectively and independently and that it should include the protection of economic, social, and cultural rights.
The committee also urges Lithuania to take measures to protect national minorities and Roma from discrimination and social exclusion. Persistent stigmatization and social exclusion of, and discrimination against, Roma remain a concern. The committee recommends that Lithuania redoubles its efforts to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people.
The CESCR calls on Lithuania to review and amend all existing laws, regulations, norms, and practices that are discriminatory against women, and develop policies and programs to achieve substantive gender equality. The State is also urged to combat corruption and enhance the investigative capacity and independent functioning of the Special Investigation Service and the public prosecutors.
Exploitation and abuse of migrant workers in focus
The committee expresses concern over the exploitation and abuse of migrant workers by their employers, and the lack of information on measures implemented to tackle this issue. It recommends that Lithuania imposes effective deterrent penalties on employers who breach legislation to protect migrant workers and introduces effective mechanisms to monitor compliance with labour laws. The committee also raises concerns over the limited definition of the right to strike as defined in the Labor Code and calls on Lithuania to reform the Code to align it with international standards.
The CESCR highlights the low level of social assistance pension provided to older people and calls on Lithuania to increase the coverage and level of social security benefits, particularly for those working in the informal economy. Finally, the committee expresses concern over the challenges faced by disadvantaged individuals and groups in accessing housing, particularly for the Roma people, and calls on Lithuania to increase the supply of social housing and provision of housing subsidies.
The committee's concluding observations serve as recommendations to Lithuania to improve its human rights protection efforts. The CESCR urges the state to take urgent action to address these concerns and protect the human rights of all individuals in the country.