Rule of Law in Lithuania

Justice

Effective justice systems are essential for upholding the rule of law. Independence, quality and efficiency are the defined parameters of an effective justice system, whatever the model of the national legal system and tradition in which it is anchored. Whilst the organisation of justice in the Member States falls within the competence of the Member States, when they are exercising that competence, Member States must ensure that their national justice systems provide for effective judicial protection. The independence of national courts is fundamental to ensuring such judicial protection. National courts ensure that the rights and obligations provided under EU law are enforced effectively. As re-affirmed by the European Court of Justice, the very existence of effective judicial review to ensure compliance with EU law is of the essence for the rule of law. Effective justice systems are also the basis for mutual trust, which is the bedrock of the common area of freedom, justice and security, an investment friendly environment, the sustainability of long-term growth and the protection of EU financial interests. The European Court of Justice has further clarified the requirements stemming from EU law regarding judicial independence. The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights also provides for key standards to be respected to safeguard judicial independence.

Independence

yellow
In 2020, new legal provisions on appointments of the judiciary came into force.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The level of perceived judicial independence is average to high among the general public and companies.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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The Constitutional Court has clarified the scope of the functional immunity of judges.
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Members of the judiciary are suspected of being involved in corruption cases.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The Constitutional Court ruled that the dismissal of the Chairperson of the Civil Division of the Supreme Court was unconstitutional.
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Quality

green
A number of reforms have been implemented, including a comprehensive reform of the judicial map.
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The structure of the Supreme Court has been modified.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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The use of digital tools in the justice system is widespread.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The pre-existing digital solutions and the legal framework allowed for some of the court activities to be maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Efficiency

green
The justice system presents good results in terms of efficiency.
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New measures to further improve efficiency are foreseen.
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Anti-corruption

The fight against corruption is essential for maintaining the rule of law. Corruption undermines the functioning of the state and of public authorities at all levels and is a key enabler of organised crime 48 . Effective anti-corruption frameworks, transparency and integrity in the exercise of state power can strengthen legal systems and trust in public authorities. Fighting corruption needs to be based on evidence about its prevalence and form in a given country, the conditions that enable corruption and the legal, institutional and other incentives that can be used to prevent, detect and sanction corruption.

Institutional Framework

yellow
Lithuania scores 60/100 on the Transparency international Corruption Perception Index and ranks 11th in the European Union and 35th globally.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The legislative framework is broadly in place.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Programme for 2015-2025 is ongoing, though some of the measures foreseen are lagging behind.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Prevention

green
Reforms aiming at strengthening the framework of conflicts of interests have been adopted.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The Chief Official Ethics Commission (COEC) is tasked with supervising lobbying activities.
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Legal protection of whistle-blowers is in place.
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Repressive measures

green
The competences for anti-corruption policies as well as for preventing, investigating and prosecuting corruption are divided between several authorities.
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The divisions of organised crime and corruption investigation within the Prosecutor General’s Office and the regional prosecutor’s offices conduct and coordinate pre-trial investigations carried out by the organised crime investigation divisions of the criminal police and the STT.
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Media Freedom

All Member States have legal frameworks in place to protect media freedom and pluralism and EU citizens broadly enjoy high standards of media freedom and pluralism. Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism and the right of access to information are generally enshrined in the Constitution or in secondary law. Media pluralism and media freedom are key enablers for the rule of law, democratic accountability and the fight against corruption. The murders of journalists who were investigating high-level corruption and organised crime allegations have been a wake-up call reminding Member States of the obligation to guarantee an enabling environment for journalists, protect their safety and pro-actively promote media freedom and media pluralism.

Regulatory authorities

green
The institutional framework consists of several bodies.
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Transparency of Media

yellow
Lithuanian law provides safeguards to ensure transparency of media ownership.
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A new strategy aims to strengthen media independence.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Journalists' Protection

green
The right to information is enshrined in the Lithuanian Constitution, and the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public regulates the public’s right to access administrative documents held by public authorities.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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A legal framework for journalists’ protection is in place.
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Other Institutional Issues

Institutional checks and balances are at the core of the rule of law. They guarantee the functioning, cooperation and mutual control of State organs so that power is exercised by one state authority with the scrutiny of others. In addition to an effective justice systems, checks and balances rely on a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws, the separation of powers, the constitutional and judicial review of laws, a transparent and high-quality public administration as well as effective independent authorities such as ombudsperson institutions or national human rights institutions.

Preparing and enacting laws

green
The transparency of the legislative process and the involvement of stakeholders are enshrined in law.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The Government adopted measures in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Civil Society

green
An extensive legal framework ensures the participation of civil society organisations in the decision-making process.
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Accessibility

green
The possibility of individual constitutional review was introduced in 2019.
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Independent Authorities

green
Independent authorities are active in safeguarding fundamental rights.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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