On the 7th of June 2023, the Lithuanian Constitutional Court delivered its judgment no. 10-A/2022. The case concerned an applicant who irregularly crossed the Lithuanian border and applied for asylum. He was subsequently placed in an ‘accommodation’ centre deprived of the freedom to move within Lithuania. The Constitutional Court assessed the applicable legislation under which, in the event of a mass arrivals of foreigners during an extraordinary situation or state of emergency, all asylum applicants who applied for asylum at the border, in transit zones or shortly after irregularly crossing the border must be ‘accommodated’ in designated places pending the decision on their status. The legislation does not grant the right to move freely within the territory of Lithuania and the duration of such measures could last six months in absence of a decision by the competent authority.

The Constitutional Court first held that impugned legislation was established in order to pursue a legitimate objective, namely to ensure public order, to protect the state border, and to control the increased flow of foreigners crossing the Lithuanian border during a state of emergency. However, the Court ruled that the legislation breached the Constitution as no preconditions were established for an individual assessment of each person’s situation including the real threat posed to values protected by the Constitution, the interests of the state and society. No preconditions were established by the Government for the application of alternative less restrictive measures on the person’s liberty. The Court further ruled that the legislation did not guarantee the asylum applicants’ right to review the validity and lawfulness of the applied measure as asylum applicants were ‘accommodated’ without relevant decisions or were not provided a judicial review and so the legislation also violated the Constitution in this regard.

Based on an unofficial translation from within the EWLU team.

We would like to thank Justė Remytė, senior lawyer at the Lithuanian Red Cross, for bringing this case to our attention.