12 January 2017
The Seimas Ombudsman, Augustinas Normantas, has met with the head of the Prison Department, Živilė Mikėnaitė, and the governors of prisons. The Minister of Justice, Ms. Milda Vainiute, and the Chairs of the Seimas Committees on Human Rights and Legal Affairs, Mr. Valerij Simulik and Mr. Julius Sabatauskas, also attended the meeting.
At the beginning of the gathering, Mr. Normantas, the head of the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office, drew the attention of the managers of penitentiaries towards pressing problems in prisons, including poor incarceration conditions. “They continue to be in a state of non-compliance with the statutory regulations regarding minimum space per person,” he noted.
Mr. Normantas supported the opinion of the Chair of the Seimas Committee Legal Affairs who pointed out that without handling the problem of confinement conditions, Lithuania not only violates human rights but also pays out immense sums adjudged to convicts because of extreme imprisonment conditions.
“The European Court of Human Rights is considering launching a case against Lithuania owing to systematic human rights violations in prisons,” he emphasised.
28 December 2016
A re-visit of Šiauliai Psychiatric Clinic and Rokiškis Psychiatric Hospital revealed that the mental institutions had implemented most recommendations the Seimas Ombudsman had made concerning the elimination of human rights violations.
“From thirteen recommendations provided to Šiauliai Hospital Psychiatry Clinic eleven are already implemented, two recommendations implemented partially,” noted the Seimas Ombudsman.
During a visit to Šiauliai Psychiatric Clinic three years ago, the advisers of the Human Rights Division of the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office identified several human rights violations which the hospital initially was reluctant to eliminate.
“The changes in Šiauliai Psychiatric Clinic’s administration and the meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Health and Lithuanian psychiatrists, including prof. Arūnas Germanavičius, Vilnius University Faculty of Health and the Chief Psychiatrist of Lithuania prof. Virginija Adomaitienė, the head of LSMU Psychiatric Clinic, produced the positive results,” noted Mr. Normantas.
Nonetheless, the head of the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office pointed out that Šiauliai Psychiatric Clinic should work on achieving satisfactory hygiene standards by providing more space to patients in the Department of Subacute Care and avoiding having more than four patients in any one ward.
19 December 2016
In response to reports in the media about the woman's death and complaints received regarding human rights’ violations, the Seimas Ombudsman, Augustinas Normantas, visited the Prienai Care Home. The safety of the residents was assessed, to see if there were any human rights abuses and if the personnel was prepared for extreme situations.
The Seimas Ombudsman wondered why the resident had suffocated from smoke if the personnel had taken all measures to avoid a disaster. The Seimas Ombudsman expressed doubts as to whether the staff had responded to the disaster in time, and whether the fire alarm system had been activated timely and appropriately.
In 2013, while visiting the Prienai Care Home, the Seimas Ombudsman had identified some human rights violations. These were dealt with, at the time, by the administration.
“Three years ago, I made recommendations to ensure all fire safety requirements. When providing information on the implementation of the recommendations, the care home administration assured us that the foster home was equipped with a fire safety alarm system.” The Seimas Ombudsman recalled the answer from the administration that, in case the alarm is tripped, “the employees would react rapidly.” “The crucial question, therefore, is whether the employees did not respond to the fire alarm in time, or whether it did not work. Or was it possible to avoid the death of a resident? Of course, a pre-trial investigation will provide the answers.”