[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

LITHUANIA (TIER 1)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Lithuania is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. One estimate concluded that approximately 20 percent of Lithuanian trafficking victims are underage girls. Lithuanian women are trafficked within the country and to the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, France, and the Czech Republic for the purpose of forced prostitution. Women from Belarus are trafficked to Lithuania for the same purpose.

The Government of Lithuania fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. In 2008, the government increased victim assistance funding to $150,000, demonstrated strong law enforcement efforts, and increased the number of victims referred by law enforcement personnel for assistance. It also ensured that a majority of convicted traffickers served significant time in prison.

Recommendations for Lithuania: Train relevant law enforcement personnel to improve efforts to identify and investigate human trafficking offenses, including labor trafficking; provide trafficking awareness and prevention training for peacekeepers deployed abroad; and continue to ensure a majority of convicted traffickers serve some time in prison.

The Government of Lithuania sustained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Lithuania prohibits all forms of trafficking through Article 147 of its criminal code, which prescribes penalties ranging from probation to 15 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. In 2008, authorities initiated 16 sex trafficking investigations and 3 labor trafficking investigations, up from a total of 9 investigations in 2007. Authorities prosecuted 20 defendants for sex trafficking during the reporting period, compared to eight defendants prosecuted in 2007. In 2008, 13 trafficking offenders were convicted, a significant increase from 4 convictions in 2007. Ten convicted traffickers were given sentences ranging from two to eight years’ imprisonment, while three traffickers were given no time in prison.

The Lithuanian Government continued to improve its protection of trafficking victims. Law enforcement identified 86 trafficking victims and referred them to NGOs for assistance in 2008, compared with 56 victims referred in 2007. In 2008, the government provided approximately $150,000 to 13 anti-trafficking NGOs to conduct victim assistance and rehabilitation, including vocational training and job placement for victims, compared to $144,000 in 2007. Adult female and minor victims were provided shelter in domestic violence shelters. Male victims of trafficking could be housed at community crisis centers, although to date no male victims of trafficking have requested shelter. The government encouraged victims to assist in trafficking investigations and prosecutions; in 2008, twenty-five Lithuanian victims assisted with trafficking investigations and prosecutions. Foreign victims who participated in court proceedings were eligible for temporary residency and work permits. Identified victims were not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked; however, some victims who were not properly identified may have been fined for prostitution offenses. During the reporting period, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assisted 17 Lithuanian victims identified abroad by referring them to local NGOs for assistance and provided funding for their repatriation to Lithuania.

Lithuania demonstrated some efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. For example, the government funded an education campaign targeted at children and adolescents in seven towns across the country; the campaign focused on targeting both potential victims of trafficking and also potential future clients of the sex trade.