Reasons for detention
If you have entered the country “illegally”, you can be detained as an illegal immigrant if you do not apply for asylum. According the Aliens’ Law, a non-citizen can be detained: 1) to prevent unauthorised entry; 2) when they enter or stay unlawfully; 3) in order to return a person to another country when they have not been admitted to Lithuania; 4) when a person is suspected of using false documents; 5) to expel a non-citizen from Lithuania or another EU member state on the basis of Council Directive 2001/40/EC on mutual recognition of expulsion decisions; 6) to prevent dangerous communicable diseases; or 7) when a non-citizen’s stay in Lithuania poses a threat to national security, public order, or public health. (https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/europe/lithuania)
Lithuania has been criticised by the UN for overusing detention facilities, so it has started reducing its focus on purely detention based accommodation. Additionally the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania ruled that, the mere risk of leaving the country is not sufficient to detain families with children and that necessity and proportionality considerations are key principles governing the detention of asylum-seekers. However, detention on the basis of the possibility that someone would leave has been a long term practice, so one should be careful while providing information about their intentions to leave or not intending to stay in Lithuania. Also minors and their family members are no longer put in detention facilities. The last children kept in detention were released by December 2015.
Undocumented immigrants are detained in the Foreigners’ Registration Centre in Pabradė. This centre is a former military base and has two sections: one for undocumented immigrants with movements restrictions and one for asylum seekers (during their application procedure). The section for asylum seekers is an open camp (they have right to leave this place for 24 hours) and renovated, but living conditions are still very poor and not suitable for a longer stay. There is a lack of activities and the treatment of wards is harsh. The law does not foresee a maximum duration of the stay in this place, but the usual asylum procedure lasts around 3 to 6 months. Many asylum seekers use the right to leave for 24 hours and flee the country.
There is the possibility to choose another place to stay during the application procedure, but you have to live on your own, having entered and stayed in the country legally. Almost all asylum seekers are housed in the Foreigners’ Registration Centre in Pabradė. In addition to the Pabradė centre, non-citizens who apply for asylum at the border and are subject to accelerated asylum procedures may be held at border crossing points and in transit zones for up to 28 days. According to the UNHCR, the border procedure fall short of international standards because it does not have sufficient safeguards against unlawful or arbitrary detention.