After a visit to Kybartai Foreigners’ Registration Center (further on – Kybartai FRC), the Head of the Seimas Ombudspersons’ Office Erika Leonaitė published an NPM report. Taking into account the circumstances established during monitoring visits regarding the human rights situation of foreigners held in Kybartai FRC as well as relevant international standards and legal acts in force in the Republic of Lithuania, the Seimas Ombudsperson concludes that the totality of conditions applied to foreigners in Kybartai FRC are equivalent to inhuman or degrading treatment prohibited under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The Seimas Ombudsperson notes in the report that the nature and degree of the actual restrictions applied to foreigners accommodated in Kybartai FRC (material reception conditions, nature of supervision / control, strict restrictions on freedom of movement, length of stay, etc.) are equivalent to detention.
As concerns material conditions of accommodation of foreigners at Kybartai FRC, the Seimas Ombudsperson draws attention to the significantly smaller than the minimum living space per person, the lack of private space, strict restrictions on movement and lack of hygiene in sector A, which has the largest number of foreigners.
The report also points out that the right of foreigners to be informed about their rights and obligations, the decisions made against them, and access to legal aid is not adequately guaranteed; therefore, foreigners are often in ignorance.
Seimas Ombudsperson E. Leonaitė also draws the attention to the fact that the European Committee against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has made it clear that the detention of illegal migrants must not become a punishment: “Things that we all take for granted – the opportunity to wash our hands with warm water or take a warm shower, buy food, make food or just make tea has become a privilege and a big event for those held here.”
Speaking about the degrading conditions, the Seimas Ombudsperson notes that the state must ensure that these people are provided with at least minimum conditions that meet their human dignity: “While visiting Kybartai with the team, we met people of different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds, held in crowded conditions without even the slightest degree of privacy and suffering from uncertainty about their future.”
The visits of the Seimas Ombudsperson and the employees of the Human Rights Division of the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office to Kybartai FRC were carried out on 14-16 December 2021, 22-23 December 2021 and on 12 January 2022.