EP: Politically motivated persecution of Lithuanian officials is not a Lithuanian problem, but a pan-European problem

Date

2021 04 01

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Minister of Justice Evelina Dobrovolska attended a joint meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and Committee on Foreign Affairs, where she reiterated her call for the EU to work together against politically motivated acts of persecution by third countries. 

At the meeting, the minister stressed that Lithuania will continue to actively seek protection for the investigating prosecutors and trial judges in the January 13 case, and that it will not tolerate politically motivated pressure from Russia. 

According to Ms Dobrovolska, it is the duty of the entire Community to look for effective solutions in protecting EU citizens from illegal detention and possible extradition. 

“It is obvious that foreign decisions that run counter to the principles of justice and democratic rule of law are not tolerable, so we must seek a common EU approach to this situation, assess international obligations, and take measures to ensure the security of citizens throughout the Community. The European Commission’s proposals will allow for the establishment of a cooperation and information exchange mechanism to achieve these goals,” says Ms Dobrovolska.

The minister called on the European Commission to define a clear model of cooperation in the forthcoming guidelines for extradition requests that would help protect EU citizens from potentially illegal or politically motivated extradition requests. She also urged the EC to perform an analysis of the legal framework and practice with regard to Interpol notices of the Member States and, based on best practice, to propose a cooperation mechanism for the exchange of information on politically motivated Interpol notices.

At the committee meeting, Lithuania’s position was strongly supported by both LIBE Committee Chair Juan Fernando López Aguilar and a representative of the European Commission, who assured the participants that the guidelines for extradition requests will be prepared for the Member States by the end of this year. 

Mr Aguilar noted that this is not a Lithuanian problem, but a pan-European problem, and that EU citizens must be given maximum protection against illegal actions by third countries and be able to safely exercise their EU freedom of movement.

Lithuania is making targeted efforts to bring international publicity to this issue and initiating the mobilisation of support. Minister Dobrovolska raised the issue of the January 13 case in her meeting with European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders and during the conference of EU justice ministers that took place on 11 March. She also called for Francisca Van Dunem, Minister of Justice for Portugal, which is currently presiding over the Council of the European Union, to allocate due attention to this issue on the Council’s agenda. 
Representatives of Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and France have already expressed support for our country’s initiatives.  

Today’s meeting was attended by representatives of the LIBE and AFET committees, the EU Commission, the European External Action Service and the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary. 

In 2018, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation launched criminal proceedings against the prosecutors who were investigated the January 13 case, and in April 2019 – against the judges who heard the case.