National frameworks to address hate crime in Lithuania
This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in Lithuania. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on Lithuania's hate crime report page.
Hate crime recording and data collection
Criminal data are processed in the Departmental Register of Criminal Acts. The Register is administrated by the Ministry of the Interior. The data are provided by police officers and prosecutors when a pre-trial investigation begins or other decisions on criminal procedures are made. The courts provide data to the Register only in cases of private accusation in which a pre-trial investigation is not carried out, and when a victim files a complaint and upholds an accusation in court.
There are two types of hate crimes described in the criminal code: substantive crimes with bias motivations (with specific sentencing enhancements for murder, health impairment, desecration of graves or other places of public respect, and incitement to violence); and all other crimes for which a bias motivation is an aggravating circumstance that should be taken into account by the court in sentencing.
During the investigation of hate crime cases, officers entering information in the Register can mark a criminal act as potentially motivated by "race", nationality, religion, language, gender, descent, social status, convictions or views, sexual orientation, age, or disability.
When a criminal case is referred to the court, the officer entering the decision in the Register will also indicate the bias motive of a criminal act if it has been investigated. In order to obtain data on recorded and prosecuted hate crimes, the Register can be searched by filtering by bias motives and relevant excerpts of the criminal code. The data are then reviewed to ensure accuracy.
To obtain data on the sentencing of hate crimes, the Register of Suspected, Accused and Convicted Persons can be searched by the relevant criminal case number referred to the court. Such searches are performed and data reviewed by the Public Security and Migration Department of the Ministry of the Interior.
Statistics on the application of aggravating circumstance provisions in sentencing are currently not available. A special instruction or policy document governing the process of hate crime data collection does not exist. Only official statistics on substantive crimes with bias motivations (murder, health impairment and incitement of violence), are published on the Ministry of the Interior's website. More detailed statistics were provided in the Report on the situation of hate crimes and hate speech in Lithuania in the period 2020-2021, published in 2022.
Hate crime victim support
There is no developed victim support system in Lithuania. However, Lithuania's Law on State-Guaranteed Legal Aid (Article 12) provides for more favorable conditions for state-guaranteed legal aid to hate crime victims than to victims of other crimes. The legal aid is provided by the State-Guaranteed Legal Aid Office.
In 2021, Lithuania adopted a law to transpose EU Directive 2012/29 on establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime. According to the Law on Assistance to Victims of Criminal Offences, victims of any criminal offence may receive assistance (including information, advice, and/or services) that takes into account their individual needs, the needs arising from the criminal offence committed, and the nature of the offence. Such assistance should be offered before, during and after criminal proceedings, as well as in cases where criminal proceedings are not initiated. Assistance is provided to victims free of charge and regardless of whether the victim or their legal representative has lodged a complaint, a statement, or a report on a criminal offence. Victims of violent crime are entitled to compensation for material and non-material damages, which may be compensated by a court decision or advance.
In September 2021, 25 victim support services began providing accredited assistance to crime victims. Victim support services provide information about victims' rights and relevant institutions; ensure the provision of emotional and psychological support; arrange for temporary accommodation (if necessary); and offer information on social and medical service providers, among other assistance. Accredited victim support services receive state funding.
A number of civil society organizations (CSOs) provide legal, emotional, and psychological assistance to victims of hate crime. A website "Nepyka.lt", launched by the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson in 2021, provides information for hate crime victims on accessible support and their rights in the criminal justice process. The website also redirects people to a site that can be used to report a hate comment or a hate crime to the police and/or to a CSO working to monitor these phenomena.
Lithuanian legislation further provides for special protection measures for victims and witnesses of crime, including the use of video conferencing systems and the possibility to ensure full or partial anonymity. A relevant assessment is conducted by a police officer (during pre-trial investigations) or a prosecutor, and not later than during the first interview with the victim. The assessment determines the victim's special protection needs, which aim to reduce the psychological impact of the criminal proceedings or any secondary trauma of the victim. Procedures for carrying out such assessments are set forth in recommendations that were approved by the Prosecutor General.
Furthermore, a victim may be accompanied during criminal proceedings by a person of their choosing. At any moment in the pre-trial investigation, a victim or their representative has a right to become acquainted with the pre-trial investigation data. Practical guidance is available for law enforcement on co-operating with communities targeted in hate crimes. Law enforcement also receive occasional training courses on working with hate crime victims.
Lithuania's Center for Crime Prevention provides support to all crime victims by email or by phone, and is funded by the state and municipal actors. There are also several dedicated helplines that cater to the needs of children and youth, adults in need of psychological support, and women victims of domestic violence.