On unaccompanied minor refugees in Lithuania.

Last update : February 2020

An unaccompanied minor in Lithuania is a person who is less than 18 years old and who arrived in Lithuania without parents or other legal guardians (or has been left without legal guardians after entering the country). According to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens unaccompanied minors are accomodated in the Refugees Reception Centre in Rukla, therefore detention does not apply to them.

The Law on the Legal Status of Aliens also proclaims, in article 32, that unaccompanied migrants without regard to legality of their stay in Lithuania have the rights: 1) to be accommodated with a living space, 2) study in school, 3) have free access to healthcare, 4) have free access to social services, 5) to use the government provided legal aid.

The legal situation of minors seeking asylum is better, as legal counsel is a choice for adults but it is mandatory for unaccompanied minors. They are safe from the immediate rejection clause which applies if the asylum seeker has arrived from a safe country. Also, their application cannot be processed through an accelerated procedure, a process taking 10 working days, during which the applicant stays in detention in the transit zone or in some cases the Foreigners’ Registration Centre.
There are very few registered unaccompanied minors in Lithuania. From 2014 to 2016 there were only 9 cases, so little can be said on how the system actually operates. However, there was one case when two minors were placed in a remand prison alongside adult men for three months, when detained by the State Border Guard while crossing the Lithuanian border in April 2013. In July 2015, the Supreme Court ordered Lithuania to pay more than 6,000 EUR in compensation for violating the rights of those two minor Afghan refugees. The protection of unaccompanied minors exists in the law, yet it is not clear how it works in practice.