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2021.09.15 16:30

Lithuania asks European court to revoke ruling banning pushbacks of five Afghans

BNS2021.09.15 16:30

Lithuania has asked the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to lift its interim measures, banning the authorities from pushing back five Afghan asylum seekers back to Belarus.

"We believe that the process was abused when seeking [the interim measures], because the ECHR was provided with possibly false information," Karolina Bubnytė-Širmenė, the Lithuanian government's representative at the Strasbourg court, told reporters on Wednesday.

"The measures were requested without taking into account the specific context that we have in terms of this migrant crisis which is supported and inspired by a third country," she said.

The request will be sent to the court later on Wednesday, according to Bubnytė-Širmenė.

The court's decision on the interim measures will be very important in the further examination of the case, she added.

On September 8, the Strasbourg court said it had "decided to indicate an interim measure in the case Sadeed and Others v Lithuania [...] concerning five Afghan nationals who have been attempting to enter Lithuania from Belarus and now assert that they are in hiding in Lithuania”.

"The measure will apply until 29 September 2021 inclusive," it said.

According to the court's press release, the applicants said they had arrived in Belarus in August and had since been repeatedly attempting to enter Lithuania to seek international protection.

"They allege that they fled Afghanistan because, as westernised and educated Afghan nationals, they are particularly vulnerable to Taliban reprisals," the court said.

"However, on several occasions they were unable to enter Lithuania nor to return to Belarus [...]. They were thus stranded at the border. They have apparently been hiding on Lithuanian territory since September 5."

Lithuanian Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė says attempts are being made to open a new route of irregular migration “by manipulating events in Afghanistan”.

The five Afghan nationals have now been allowed to enter Lithuanian territory and all have requested asylum.

Over 4,100 migrants, mostly Iraqi nationals, have crossed irregularly into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year. Vilnius accuses the Minsk regime of orchestrating the unprecedented migration influx, calling it "hybrid aggression".

Early in August, Lithuanian border guards were instructed to push irregular migrants attempting to enter Lithuania back to Belarus and direct them to border crossing points or diplomatic representations.

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