2021.12.07 11:53

Lithuanian parliament renews state of emergency, scraps proposal to extend it on Polish border

Milena Andrukaitytė, BNS, LRT.lt2021.12.07 11:53

The Lithuanian parliament voted on Tuesday to extend the state of emergency for another month. The special regime will stay in effect along the country's border with Belarus, but not Poland, as previously proposed.

The extension, until January 15, was supported by 102 parliament members, none voted against or abstained.

Read more: Migration crisis in Baltics and Poland

The state of emergency will apply to the 5-kilometre strip along Lithuania's border with Belarus and in migrant camps. Among other things, the measure restricts access for rights organisations to observe pushbacks of irregular migrants.

Asylum seekers accommodated in half a dozen facilities in Lithuania will continue to see their access to communication devices restricted, except for contacting the country's authorities.

Speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen told the parliament that “the threats that led to the introduction of these measures to safeguard national security and public order are still present”.

An earlier proposal from the cabinet of ministers had the state of emegrency extended along the border with Poland as well. However, a newer draft resolution, registered in the parliament on Tuesday did not include the measure.

Čmilytė-Nielsen said the decision was made “in light of proposals from political groups, given that it is not a necessary provision at this stage”, adding that “it will be amended if necessary”.

According to the speaker, the amendments have been approved by the government, whose original proposal was to extend the state of emergency on the border with Belarus until January 15 and introduce the special legal regime on the border of Poland.

The state of emergency was declared on November 10, in response to a massing of migrants near the Polish border in Belarus, and would have expired on December 9.

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year, and almost 7,900 more have been turned away by border guards.

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