2021.07.27 11:50

Lithuania may declare state of emergency in parts of country over migrant crisis – MP

BNS2021.07.27 11:50

Lithuania's authorities may declare a state of emergency in some areas due to the growing migration crisis, but that requires a broad political consensus, Saulius Skvernelis, the parliamentary opposition leader and former prime minister, said on Tuesday.  

"Today, the situation is such that in order to make full use of the Armed Forces and military reserves, a state of emergency in separate sections and individual territories of the country can be considered," Skvernelis told reporters.

"However, that requires political consensus, and the ruling bloc should take the initiative and seek that consensus if they think this is necessary," he added.

A state of emergency would allow imposing certain restrictions, such as banning protests and rallies, according to Skvernelis.

"If we decide that such a regime is inevitable – and I think we are heading to that situation – we must explain to the public what it would give us," he said.

The authorities would have to inform the public that a state of emergency would be in place in certain parts of the country rather than nationwide, and publish a clear list of restrictions and a plan for how the special regime would be imposed and controlled.

"[This is necessary] to ensure that this is not done across the country and that no decisions are taken to restrict political rights and freedoms," Skvernelis said.

"However, as far as various protests and mass demonstrations are concerned, these restrictions would be imposed, making it possible to mobilize both municipal and state resources [...] to ensure the inviolability of the state borders," he added.

Skvernelis believes that there will be no resistance if the public is provided with a clear plan and explanation of why the measure is necessary.

The parliamentarian's comment came after police used force late on Monday to remove protesters blocking access to the Rudninkai military training ground where the authorities are planning to set up a tent camp for migrants.

Read more: Scuffles break out as activists block road to would-be migrant camp in Lithuania

Under the law, a state of emergency is a special legal regime that allows temporarily restricting individuals' rights and freedoms, including declaring martial law.

A state of emergency can be introduced nationwide or in individual parts of the country.

The government has declared a state-level emergency situation over an unprecedented influx of irregular migrants arriving via Belarus.

Vilnius officials say the Belarusian regime is complicit in facilitating the crossings, calling it “hybrid aggression” against the country.

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