News

2021.08.10 09:32

Lithuanian parliament considers laws to stem migration: border fence and more power to military

Milena Andrukaitytė, BNS2021.08.10 09:32

The Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, is gathering for an extraordinary session to pass legislation aimed at stemming the recent increase in irregular migration.

One of the packages would give the military more power under an extreme situation. Another piece of legislation is related to the construction of a physical barrier on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border.

Proposed by the Ministry of Defence, the amendments giving more power to the military would authorise soldiers to give orders to civilians, prosecute and detain those who refuse to obey or are suspected of crime. Soldiers would also be able to stop and search vehicles and people, use special measures.

MP Saulius Skvernelis, leader of the opposition, has criticised the proposed amendments, saying that they in fact would allow three people “to introduce a state of war in the country during peacetime”.

The second package of amendments, proposed by the Interior Ministry, would see the construction of a fence on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border. The project would be implemented by 2022.

Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė has confirmed that the state-owned Epso-G energy group would be tasked to build the fence estimated to cost around 152 million euros.

Lithuanian lawmakers are also set to consider amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens to restrict the number of places where migrants could request asylum during an extreme situation.

According the proposed amendments, during wartime or a government-declared extreme situation, asylum requests could be submitted to the State Border Guard Service at border checkpoints or transit zones, as well as to the Migration Department or Lithuania's diplomatic representations in foreign countries.

Over 4,000 irregular migrants have entered Lithuania from Belarus so far this year.

Lithuania has declared a state-level extreme situation over the migration spike which it says is being orchestrated by the Belarusian government.

The country has recently introduced a policy of pushing migrants back from the border.

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