Human Rights in the Spotlight
Lithuania is an ex-Soviet state that re-gained independence in the 90s and became a member of the European Union (EU) in 2004.
Interesting lessons can be drawn from Lithuania‘s path to independence, marked by the steady shift of economy, society and policy. However, social divisions have (re)appeared in the context of a free market economy and globalisation. Human rights legislation was adopted in a rushed manner by the government’s will to comply with the Copenhagen Criteria – a set of prerequisites to join the EU. However, not all human rights values were embraced by the majority of society. Human rights are still perceived as intrusive “Western values” within a country positioning itself as homogenous, Catholic and traditional. Lithuanian civil society is fragmented into separate sectors working on narrow issues and thus is not able to address human rights issues in a comprehensive manner.
In its 7th Human Rights in Lithuania Overview for the year 2011-2012, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute highlighted that human rights were never a priority for Lithuanian politicians. With the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008 human rights issues were left outside of the political agenda all together. The year 2011-2012 did not bring any fundamental changes – Lithuania still lacks unified and strategically formed human rights policy. Legislative initiatives are drafted regardless of their possible impact on human rights protection, and some of them even contradict the fundamental principles of human rights.
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