CLASS ACTION AGAINST ARBITRARY DETENTION IN LITHUANIA

PLEASE RESPOND IMMEDIATELY IF THIS APPLIES TO YOU

From July 2021, at least four thousand people entered Lithuania from Belarus, through the land border, to seek asylum. They were automatically detained, without recourse to a legal remedy to challenge such detention and remained in arbitrary and unlawful detention until 2022.

In June 2023, the Lithuanian Constitutional Court found that the legal provisions introduced in 2021 and applied to automatically detain the people crossing from Belarus, violated Article 20 of the Lithuanian Constitution which guarantees everyone’s right to liberty. On this basis, the Lithuanian State ought to provide reparation to the people who suffered unjust harm when they were automatically and unlawfully detained, in violation of Lithuanian and international law.

In June 2024, a group of asylum seekers, who were unlawfully and arbitrarily detained in Lithuania in 2021/22, are submitting a class action before Lithuanian courts, to seek compensation from the State. This type of legal action is open to any other asylum seeker who suffered the same violation – i.e. arbitrary detention of those seeking asylum in Lithuania starting in 2021.

 

What is a class action?

A class action law is a group legal action, allowing a group of people with a common legal issue to file a collective lawsuit against the same person/defendant. This type of legal action is generally used when a large group of individuals have been harmed in a similar way. A class action can be filed by a member of the group on behalf of the whole group.

 

What is the case focusing on?

The class action demands compensation only for a specific violation: the automatic detention without access to remedy for the first 6 months in 2021. It does NOT relate to the specific damage in the individual case (e.g. because of personal circumstances) and further detention beyond the first 6 months. In these cases, legal action seeking accountability for the rights violations should be pursued through individual cases, rather than a collective action.

 

Who can join?

Any individual who was subjected to arbitrary and unlawful detention in Lithuania starting in summer 2021 and for at least 6 months, after crossing from Belarus into Lithuania to seek asylum. An adult can also submit a claim on behalf of their minor child(ren) who were also detained during the same time.

 

Who cannot join?

People who were detained in Lithuania but were granted asylum before the end of the 6-month period of detention and anyone else who does not meet the criteria above. Any such claims can be pursued individually as they do not meet the requirements for class action. Please note that Lithuanian authorities hold registries with the data of individuals who were detained and would quickly identify any individual who claims to have been detained even if they were not.

 

What are the benefits in joining?

Joining the class action provides an opportunity to seek compensation for the arbitrary detention without having to tackle the burden and challenges of individual legal action. It is emphasised that joining the class actions is however not a guarantee that the courts will award such compensation in favour of the class. The amount being sought is of 5 thousand euro per person in total.

 

What are the costs of joining?

The costs associated to the launching of the class action are being covered through the support of Amnesty International. However, once the class action is launched, any person wishing to join will be asked to provide a small contribution towards legal expenses.

 

What should I do if I decide to join and what documents are needed?

  1. Email detentiongroupclaim@amnesty.org to request a Claim form.

In your email, please provide:

  1. Current address, phone number, email address
  2. Exact dates of detention and release
  1. Print, fill and sign the Claim form

 

  1. Email again detentiongroupclaim@amnesty.org to provide, in attachment:
    1. Copy (scanned) of the signed Claim form
    2. Copy (scanned) of your valid identification document
    3. Copy (scanned) of at least one official decision issued by Lithuanian authorities and regarding detention or asylum, indicating the name of the person and related ILTU number (which is important to identify you in the Lithuanian registry)

 

  1. Please make sure you keep a copy of all the documents you send. Please do not under any circumstances post any ORIGINAL documents in response to this. No documents will be returned.

 

When should I do this?

Immediately. The class action will be submitted by the end of June 2024.

Once the class action is lodged there will be a limited time when new members of the class will be added. Once this time passes unfortunately no new class member can be added – there is no applicable exceptions to this rule.

Should you have any questions about the class action or your eligibility please consider reading this notice again and if still unclear please send an email to detentiongroupclaim@amnesty.org

Should you know of other persons who were detained as detailed above please do not hesitate to share this notice with them.

 

Manage your expectations

It is a legal battle, the process will take time and there is no certainty of success. The final decision will be taken by the Lithuanian courts. The confirmed members will be informed by email regularly regarding the stage of the proceedings.

 

ReLex

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