Glimstedt has reported that, on July 19, 2016, a judicial panel of the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court granted a claim filed by Lithuanian Jews (“Litvaks”) now living in South Africa that the Lithuanian Interior Minister’s decision to refuse their application for restoration of Lithuanian citizenship be revoked and that their application for dual citizenship reinstatement be reconsidered by the Ministry of the Interior.
According to Glimstedt, the court of first instance dismissed the application as unfounded following its established case-law. It was noted by the court that the departure by the applicant’s mother from Lithuania could not be interpreted as “fleeing away” because the reasons for her withdrawal from Lithuania before 1940 provided to the Migration Department could hardly be deemed to constitute specific or exceptional reasons sufficient to qualify her departure as an exceptional case.
The firm reports that, although the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court also relied on the interpretation of the concept of “fleeing away” provided in Article 7 of the Lithuanian Law on Citizenship, which was in effect on the application submission date and which required proof of some individual threats to the “person who left Lithuania before 11 March 1990,” the Court emphasized that it was not correct to associate such threats solely with an occupation regime. According to the Court, the Migration Department did not look properly into the facts indicated by the applicants and, specifically, into the fact that their withdrawal from Lithuania was based on their belonging to a particular ethnic group.
By instructing the Migration Department to reconsider the applicants’ request for reinstatement of dual citizenship, the Court drew attention to an analysis of the historical situation of Jews in Lithuania from 1918 – 1949 carried out by Lithuanian scholars Sarunas Liekis and Linas Venclauskas, and to other arguments and evidence presented by the applicants to underpin their request. The Court also drew attention to the fact that the Law Amending Article 2 and Article 7 of the Law on Citizenship was passed by the Lithuanian Parliament on June 23, 2016, to expand the ability to regain Lithuanian citizenship.
In the opinion of Glimstedt Associate Partner Solveiga Paleviciene, who represented the claimants along with fellow Associate Partner Inga Klimasauskiene, the judgment delivered by the Supreme Administrative Court and the amendments to the Law on Citizenship open up the possibilities to thousands of Lithuanian Jews who were forced to leave Lithuania before 1940 due to gross violation of their rights, ethnicity, and threatened holocaust, "vividly demonstrate a breakthrough in legal consciousness in Lithuania, political maturity and a responsible approach to historically sensitive issues."
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