Children should be entitled to family reunification from the moment their caretaker receives a residence permit. No family should be kept apart because of low income or high application fees. First individual complait has been communicated to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania in accordance to the Third Optional protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child allowing individual communications to the Committee.
On behalf of the complainants we invoke Article 3 (The best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration), Article 6(2) (States parties shall ensure the child’s maximum opportunity for a normal life and healthy development), Article 7(1) (The right of the child to a name and nationality), Article 9(1) and (3) (States parties shall ensure that the child is not separated from his or her parents against their wishes), Article 10 (Right to family reunification) and Article 18(1) (States Parties shall make every effort to recognise the principle of joint and equal responsibility of both parents for the upbringing and development of the child) of the CRC.
Under article 10 of the Convention, States parties are to ensure that applications for family reunification are dealt with in a positive, humane and expeditious manner, including facilitating the reunification of children with their parents. When the child’s relations with his or her parents and/or sibling(s) are interrupted by migration (in both the cases of the parents without the child, or of the child without his or her parents and/or sibling(s)), preservation of the family unit should be taken into account when assessing the best interests of the child in decisions on family reunification. (CRC, general comment No. 14 (2013) on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration, para. 66; see also para 28 of Joint general comment No. 23 (2017) of the CRC on State obligations regarding the human rights of children in the context of international migration in countries of origin, transit, destination and return).
Current legal framework and procedures in Lithuania do not allow the exercise of the right to family reunification when no Lithuanian diplomatic representation operates in the country of origin, and the authorities refuse to assist the families on an ad hoc basis. Strikingly the law does not permit the parents legally present in Lithuania to submit the application on behalf of their minor children to the Department of Migration and, according to the observations of the Government, should travel abroad to do that. The complaint was submitted with the support of Human Rights Monitoring Institute.