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3 January 2018

The Seimas Ombudsmnens OfficeOn 1 January 2018, amendments to the Law on the Seimas Ombudsmen came into force, providing new functions for the Seimas Ombudsmen, among which are the dissemination and monitoring of human rights in the country.  The new functions include presenting the assessment of the human rights situation in Lithuania to international organisations and providing them with information regarding the obligations established in the international treaties of the Republic of Lithuania.

These amendments to the law express the duty of state and municipal authorities to cooperate with the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office by providing information to the Office about the human rights situation in the country while initiating and conducting investigations on fundamental human rights issues.

The Law on the Seimas Ombudsmen establishes the duty of the Seimas Ombudsmen to promote respect for human rights and freedoms while exercising the functions of the National Human Rights Institution. The Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office, which complies with the UN Paris Principles, as a National Human Rights Institution, has been accredited since 23 March 2017; however, amendments to the law were needed to lay the foundations of the institution.

The National Human Rights Institution is a significant segment of the national and international legal system as it supervises how the state implements international human rights obligations and participates in the activities of the UN and relevant regional human rights organisations, for the non-establishment of which Lithuania faced criticism during the UN Universal Periodic Review.

The head of the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office, Augustinas Normantas, was pleased that the National Human Rights Institution will be "the main voice of human rights,” speaking on various human rights issues.

“The National Human Rights Institution, in cooperation with the public, will raise the most urgent issues of human rights,” noted Mr Normantas.

The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution adopted in 1993, encouraged the Member States to establish national human rights institutions. The requirement for each Member State to have a national human rights institution is also raised by the European Union (EU). There is a requirement to have a national human rights institution, as a condition of membership, for states seeking to become members of the EU. The recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council have repeatedly called for the Republic of Lithuania to establish a national human rights institution.

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