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Continued Problems for Roma in Accessing Documents in Lithuania

7 November 2002

On July 17, 2002, Ms Egle Kučinskaite, an activist working on Roma issues in Lithuania, informed the ERRC of issues faced by Roma in accessing citizenship in Lithuania. According to Ms Kučinskaite, Ms Andželika Majauskaite, a 31-year-old Romani woman from Lithuania, lived from 1994 through 1999 in the Kaliningrad region of Russia after marrying a man from the area. In 1999, Ms Majauskaite returned to Lithuania to be with her parents and her son from a previous marriage following a divorce. She first included herself on the list of citizens of Russia as required for entering the country, because she did not have citizenship in the Republic of Lithuania, but only a Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic passport. After her return to Kaunas, in 2000, Ms Majauskaite applied for a Lithuania passport at the Santaka Passport Division in Kaunas, where she was instructed to acquire a Russian passport. In June 2000, Ms Majauskaite gave birth to a second child in Lithuania. In January 2001, Ms Majauskaite received a written notice from the Kaunas Police Department of the Kaunas Migration Department stating that she had exceeded the annual ninety-day legal term of residence without visa in Lithuania. Ms Majauskaite returned to Russia in March 2001 and acquired a Russian internal passport. After her return, in April 2001, she reportedly gave birth to a third child. Ms Majauskaite presented her Russian internal passport to the Santaka Passport Division. She was reportedly told by authorities there that such a document was not valid in Lithuania as it was only an internal passport.

According to Ms Kučinskaite, Ms Majauskaite returned to Russia again and acquired a Russian foreign passport. When Ms Majauskaite managed to return to Lithuania, she was reportedly not issued a Lithuanian passport when she applied, and in November 2001, she was again notified that she had exceeded the annual legal term of residence without visa in Lithuania. Ms Majauskaite was reportedly fined 300 Lithuanian litas (approximately 85 euros), which she was unable to pay, and told to leave the country by January 2002. According to Ms Kučinskaite, the Kaunas Migration Department then requested that Ms Majauskaite submit a letter of invitation, proof that she had a place to live and permission of the owner of the flat, and proof of income, which she was unable to do because she was unemployed and she could not be registered at her parents municipally-owned flat, due to municipal regulations. Ms Majauskaite was therefore reportedly ordered to leave Lithuania within 20 days, despite the fact that she had three children residing in the country.

In March 2002, Ms Majauskaite reportedly returned to Russia to get copies of documentation pertaining to her divorce certificate and other relevant documents and, in June 2002, Ms Majauskaite again returned to Lithuania with the necessary documents. However, Ms Majauskaite was reportedly informed by the Kaunas Migration Department that she would again be fined 1000 Lithuanian litas (approximately 290 euros) for overstaying her tourist visa. According to Ms Kučinskaite, the Kaunas Migration Department again informed Ms Majauskaite that to get permission for permanent residence in Lithuania, she had to provide proof of both her residence and her means of survival to the Department, which she was, again, unable to do.

Ms Kučinskaite reported that, on June 24, 2002, the Kaunas Migration Department informed Ms Majauskaite that if she could not provide proof of legal residence for her children in Lithuania, she and her family would be expelled, despite the fact that her children have Lithuanian birth certificates and have resided in Lithuania since birth.

As of October 1, 2002, Ms Majauskaite's parents had permission to remain in their municipally owned flat until December 2002 and she had begun the procedure to be registered in her parents flat, but Ms Kučinskaite reported that this procedure is long and complicated. Ms Majauskaite cannot access social assistance because she is not a citizen of Lithuania.

Issues surrounding citizenship and access to basic personal documents affects Roma throughout Europe. Further information relating to the issues Roma in Lithuania face is available on the ERRC's Internet website at: http://lists.errc.org/publications/indices/lithuania.shtml

(ERRC)

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