Lithuania is a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking, as well as a source country for men subjected to labor trafficking. There are government reports that Lithuanian boys and girls are forced to steal in foreign countries. NGOs estimate that 40 percent of identified Lithuanian trafficking victims are women and girls subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Lithuanian women are also victims of sex trafficking in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. Lithuanian women and girls from orphanages and state-run foster homes, as well as women with mental or psychological disabilities, are victims of trafficking in persons. A small number of women from Russia and Belarus are transported through Lithuania en route to Western Europe, where they are subsequently subjected to forced prostitution. Some Lithuanian men are subjected to forced labor in slave-like conditions in the Netherlands, the UK, and the United States.
The Government of Lithuania does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however it is making significant efforts to do so. The Lithuanian government adopted new legislation to bring it into compliance with the EU anti-trafficking directive; however, law enforcement action decreased from the previous reporting period, and new investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of traffickers all declined. The government failed to provide specialized care to male trafficking victims, and police reportedly treated some child victims as criminals. Although the government contributed funds to prevention activities, it did not implement parts of its 2009-2012 Program for the Prevention and Control of Trafficking in Human Beings due to budget constraints.
Recommendations for Lithuania: Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, including labor trafficking offenses; ensure effective training of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges on anti-trafficking principles, including the integration of an anti-trafficking module into the basic training of the police; sustainably fund NGOs to provide victim protection; intensify efforts to identify victims of trafficking proactively, particularly victims of labor trafficking and children in prostitution; ensure that all trafficking victims are offered access to shelter and treatment, particularly male and child victims; improve consular efforts to ensure that victims identified abroad are referred to care in Lithuania; ensure that victims of trafficking are provided with greater protection during trials; intensify efforts to increase the public’s understanding of trafficking in persons; fund an anti-trafficking hotline; and ensure funding and implementation for all activities in the new action plan.
The Government of Lithuania demonstrated minimal progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year. Its efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict alleged trafficking offenders declined. Lithuania prohibits all forms of human trafficking through Articles 147 and 157 of its criminal code, which prescribe penalties ranging from a fine to 12 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. During the reporting period, the government approved amendments to its criminal code to comply with provisions of the EU anti-trafficking directive, most notably by incorporating forced criminal behavior and forced begging into its anti-trafficking statute.
Lithuanian authorities conducted 44 investigations in 2012, 11 of which were new, compared to 42 investigations in 2011, 21 of which were initiated that year. In 2012, authorities prosecuted nine trafficking cases involving 25 alleged sex traffickers and one alleged labor trafficker, compared with eight cases involving 37 suspected of sex trafficking in 2011. Three cases were closed in 2012, resulting in the conviction of seven sex traffickers, compared with three cases closed in 2011 resulting in the conviction of 17 sex traffickers. All of those convicted in 2012 were sentenced to time in prison, with terms ranging from four to seven years’ imprisonment. The government did not report the investigation or prosecution of any public official allegedly complicit in human trafficking-related offenses.
The government did not include trafficking in persons in its basic police training. A specialized anti-trafficking police unit continued to offer optional police trainings, which 20 police officers attended. Observers reported that police and investigators lacked the knowledge and experience to investigate effectively cases of human trafficking, especially forced labor. To increase its capacity to collect evidence and investigate human trafficking, the Lithuanian police collaborated with Europol on international investigations and data-sharing projects. Lithuanian law enforcement officials also participated in regional trainings on labor trafficking and child forced begging and stealing. All border security guards continued to receive training on identifying victims of trafficking. The government collaborated with foreign counterparts in five international trafficking investigations and participated in and contributed to multilateral conferences in which police, investigators, and trafficking experts from other European countries shared good practices to combat the crime.
The Lithuanian government demonstrated inadequate efforts to assist victims of human trafficking during the reporting period. The government spent the equivalent of approximately $58,000 for anti-trafficking programs, the same amount as the previous year. Lithuanian authorities identified 92 trafficking victims receiving government services during the reporting period, compared to 76 in 2011. NGOs assisted approximately 150 victims in 2012, compared to 130 in 2011. Although the government had official procedures to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations—such as women in prostitution, street children, and undocumented migrants—observers reported that these procedures were not effective in practice. Lithuania’s victim care facilities were primarily operated by NGOs with central government funding, and municipal authorities provided the approximate equivalent of an additional $53,800 for such NGO care. Victims could leave the government-funded shelters at their own will and without a chaperone. The government did not ensure specialized care for trafficking victims, as most of the shelters were mixed-use facilities that also served domestic violence victims. There were no shelters for men, but the men’s crisis center in Kaunas received funding from the government to assist male trafficking victims, including finding shelter for them. The government did not ensure specialized care for child victims of trafficking, as authorities placed child victims in foster homes and mixed-use shelters. Due to insufficient government funding, NGOs requested international funding to prevent a reduction in their victim care activities. Although cooperation between the government and civil society generally improved from 2011, it still lacking in some parts of the country, as the government collaborated with NGOs on a case-by-case basis and did not utilize trade unions and employers’ organizations to identify labor trafficking victims.
The government offers foreign victims of trafficking a 30-day reflection period to decide whether to cooperate with law enforcement. Victims cooperating with law enforcement can receive temporary residency. The government granted temporary residence to one victim in 2012. Prosecutors reported that they experienced delays in prosecuting trafficking cases as trials were impeded when victims chose not to testify or left the country. NGOs suggested that victims felt unsafe. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assisted six Lithuanian trafficking victims in obtaining legal documents and repatriation, though NGO representatives reported that Lithuanian embassies were generally not helpful in providing assistance to trafficking victims who appeared at the embassy without identification. Representatives from an NGO reported that the authorities do not consistently inform or refer repatriated Lithuanians to NGOs for assistance. Reportedly, some repatriated child victims were treated as criminals in Lithuania. Through the anti-trafficking police unit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided all outgoing consular officers with training on assisting trafficking victims abroad; 36 officers were trained in 2012 and 23 in 2013. In 2012, the government also amended its anti-trafficking statute to absolve victims from liability for any criminal activity committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
The Lithuanian government continued prevention efforts during the reporting period. While the government did not officially allocate new funds for prevention activities in 2012, it collaborated with NGOs on trafficking prevention activities, including lectures and seminars that targeted students, teachers, social workers, and government officials. The Minister of Interior spoke on national television about human trafficking in Lithuania, explaining common entrapment tactics used by traffickers. The national police also published information on trafficking, including recruiting methods, on its website and via Internet advertisements. The police advertised and managed an e-mail account that the public could use to report potential human trafficking situations and ask for advice; the police received approximately 50 messages during the reporting period. The government continued to convene its multiagency working group to report on trafficking. The Government of Lithuania reported that not all planned activities from the 2009-2012 Program for the Prevention and Control of Trafficking in Human Beings were implemented in 2011 or 2012 because of budget constraints, and NGOs claimed that the government did not implement the program effectively in 2012. The Ministry of Interior developed an action plan for trafficking prevention for 2013-2015 in consultation with NGOs, which the government approved in November 2012 and incorporated into the national plan on crime prevention. The Lithuanian government made some efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex.