Lithuania has committed to the consistent fight against forced labour

Date

2020 01 17

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In December 2019, the Parliament of Lithuania (Seimas) has ratified the International Labour Organization's Protocol on Forced Labour, that supplements the 1930 Convention. Pursuant to this Protocol, Lithuania has committed to guarantee adequate protection to victims of forced labour and protection of their rights, and to take effective preventive measures to prevent the phenomenon of forced labour.

 “Regretfully, modern and educated societies still face the problem of forced or compulsory labour. Most often victims are people from socially vulnerable groups who find themselves in desperate situations and have no choice, and sometimes victims fall to schemes designed by criminal groups without the ability to resist. This problem affects the overall development of the country and society. Experts acknowledge that education and awareness raising of the public society, employers and particularly vulnerable groups, early identification of victims and appropriate protection for victims, are key to combating this phenomenon. No person who was involved in forced or compulsory labour has done it voluntarily,” - says Linas Kukuraitis, the Minister of Social Security and Labour.

According to the minister, forced labour, when people are forced to commit crimes, engage in prostitution, work without rest hours or just for food, engage in forced begging, can affect both Lithuanian and foreign citizens, as well as Lithuanians living abroad.

To this end, the Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings operates in Lithuania. The national authorities participate annually in Joint Action Days organized by Europol. The Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau is responsible for the co-ordination and control of the measures carried out in cross-border operations, while in Lithuania the measures are carried out with the assistance of the Criminal Police officers of the territorial units.

Representatives of the State Tax Inspectorate, the Lithuanian Police, the Financial Crime Investigation Service, the State Labor Inspectorate and other services are aligned under the Joint Operations Centers and aim to prevent illegal and undeclared work, crimes against the financial system, economy or business regulations, as quite often forced or compulsory labour involves several types of crimes.

Each year, the state budget allocations for social assistance for victims of human trafficking, including forced labour, and those who may have been affected by human trafficking are increasing: from 115 thousand EUR in 2017 to the planned 245 thousand EUR in 2020. Such assistance is provided through the funding of projects of non-governmental organizations acting in the field of the prevention of trafficking in human beings.

The funding is being increased in response to the growing number of people in need of such assistance in recent years. It is estimated that in 2017 over 200 persons received such assistance, and this year it will be provided to approximately 300 persons.

In Lithuania non-governmental and international organizations are especially active in providing assistance to victims of human trafficking in Lithuania.

Lithuania has been fighting the problem of forced labor since the restoration of independence in 1990. In 1994, Lithuania ratified the ILO Convention Concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour.