Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania reversed the practice of the regional courts imposing alternative measures to foreigners beyond the 18 months from their entry.
In an important decision in ReLex case A-3944-822-2022 today, the court confirmed that the alternative measures have same time limits as the detention itself, whether they amount to de facto detention or not. These would include even the lightest alternative measures, such as regularly informing the authorities about the whereabouts of the foreigner by email.
The Law on Foreigners provide no basis for limiting the freedom of movement other that accommodation of the asylum seekers, limited to 12 months and measures alternative to detention applied to the foreigners whose asylum application has been rejected.
The court rejected interpretation of the State Border Guard Service based on the Article 15 of the Return Directive providing the possibility to detain a foreigner for the purpose of removal. The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania has repeatedly stated in its rulings that under the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania it is permissible to restrict the rights and freedoms of a person if the following conditions are fulfilled: it is done by law; the restrictions are necessary in a democratic society in order to protect the rights and freedoms of other persons and the values enshrined in the Constitution as well as the constitutionally important objectives; the restrictions do not negate the nature and essence of the rights and freedoms; and the constitutional principle of proportionality is observed.
The constitutional principle of proportionality also means that the measures provided for in the law must be in accordance with legitimate aims of general interest, that they must be necessary to attain those aims and that they must not restrict a person’s rights and freedoms to a degree manifestly greater than is necessary to attain those aims. There is no legal ground to arbitrarily extend the limitation of the freedom of movement or any other alternative measure beyond the maximum of the 18 months.