The 2016 Baltic Pride March for Equality in Vilnius took place without serious incidents. A Saudi Arabian national who alleged he was tortured and held in secret CIA detention in Lithuania was denied victim status, putting an end to his domestic appeal process.
Counter-terror and security
In June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held a hearing in a case against Lithuania for complicity in the US-led rendition and secret detention programmes, which the CIA operated globally in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks in the USA.1 Abu Zubaydah, a stateless Palestinian born in Saudi Arabia and detained at the US detention centre at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba,lodged an application against Lithuania in 2011. He alleged he had been forcibly disappeared and tortured at a secret CIA detention centre in Antaviliai between 2005 and 2006, and that Lithuania had failed to effectively investigate his secret detention. A judgment in the case remained pending at the end of 2016.
In June, the Vilnius Regional Court ruled that Mustafa al-Hawsawi, a Saudi Arabian national detained at Guantánamo Bay, would not be granted victim status in a domestic investigation into Lithuanian complicity in the same CIA programmes. Mustafa al-Hawsawi claimed he had been held at the secret CIA detention site at Antaviliai, subjected to enforced disappearance and tortured between 2004 and 2006. In December, he lodged an application at the ECtHR against Lithuania.
Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
On 18 June, 3,000 people joined the March for Equality in Vilnius to celebrate Baltic Pride 2016. The march took place without serious incidents and with adequate police protection.
On 28 June, the Lithuanian Parliament voted in favour of a proposal to amend the Constitution to restrict the definition of “family” under Article 38 to exclude same-sex couples. The process would require two votes in Parliament before the amendment could be officially adopted.
Discrimination – people with disabilities
In May, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities issued several recommendations and raised a range of concerns, including around access to education and systemic barriers to access to health services.
- CIA rendition victims challenge Romania and Lithuania at Europe’s Human Rights Court (News story, 29 June)