Lithuania will seek for the accountability of the Belarusian regime for migrants smuggling

The Lithuanian government has approved the initiative of the Ministry of Justice to take legal actions to hold the Belarusian regime accountable for the smuggling of migrants at Lithuanian-Belarusian border. According to the Lithuanian authorities irregular flow of migration is organised by Belarusian leadership. 

A complaint will be lodged against Belarus for non-compliance with the provisions of the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. Under this Protocol, the Ministry of Justice will initiate negotiation on the referral of the dispute to arbitration or to the International Court of Justice. 

Minister of Justice Ewelina Dobrowolska: “Dictators have no immunity from international law. After Putin, it is the turn of the Lukashenka’s regime to be held accountable. Lithuania is consistently seeking the enforcement of the international law and the rule of law. Therefore, all legal instruments and mechanisms will be used and the regimes responsible for violations of international law will have to compensate the damages caused by their illegal actions”. 

The flow of irregular migration at the Lithuanian – Belarusian border, which has started in the summer 2021, is a hybrid attack by the Belarusian regime against Lithuania. The aim of this attack is to use migration as a tool to exert political pressure on Lithuania and European Union, for supporting the Belarusian democratic opposition and for the sanctions imposed in response to severe human rights violations in Belarus. 

According to Minister Dobrowolska, Lithuania has so far kept defending itself against criticism over the management of the influx of migrants, but in fact is itself a target of political pressure. The issue to be addressed in this case is liability for organising irregular migration. Accountability for the smuggling of people at the Lithuanian – Belarusian border, for the false promises and facilitation of illegal entry into the European Union and for all the consequences must lie with the Belarusian regime. 

As of August 3, 2021, when the State Border Guard Service officers were given the right to turn around illegal migrants trying to illegally cross the border from Belarus in unauthorized places, nearly 20,000 migrants were refused entry to Lithuania”, said the Minister.  

Since 1 January 2021, more than 4,500 irregular migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia have entered Lithuania through illegal crossing of the national border (see Irregular Migration Monitoring Scoreboard). Most of them came for economic reasons, having paid travel costs and remuneration for illegal border crossing. Such migration geography and flows are not typical for Lithuania. For example, 74 irregular migrants arrived in Lithuania in 2019, 37 in 2020, 8106 attempts to cross the border illegally were recorded in 2021, and, in 2022, there were as many as 10,599 of such attempts.