2021 Trafficking in Persons Report: Lithuania


The Government of Lithuania fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period while considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Lithuania remained on Tier 1. These efforts included prosecuting and convicting more traffickers; allocating more funds to NGOs for victim assistance; and approving a new national action plan (NAP). Furthermore, the government adopted a non-punishment provision for labor trafficking victims and a law entitling all victims access to assistance. In addition, child protective services trained child rights specialists on identifying child victims. Although the government meets the minimum standards, authorities investigated fewer cases and identified the lowest number of victims since 2013. Shortcomings in victim protection during the investigation and trial process continued to hamper law enforcement efforts, and concerns persisted that relevant agencies lacked the knowledge to recognize indicators of child trafficking. Additionally, authorities inconsistently implemented victim identification and referral mechanisms throughout the country, especially in rural areas.


Proactively identify victims, particularly children, and provide training for authorities and child protective services officials. • Implement formal victim identification and referral mechanisms for victim assistance throughout the country, especially in rural areas. • Increase efforts to vigorously investigate and prosecute sex trafficking and labor trafficking cases and convict traffickers. • Expand efforts to protect victims from threats and re-victimization during the investigation and trial of trafficking cases, including by developing clear procedures on how to protect victims. • Train investigators and prosecutors on building trafficking cases, including collecting evidence to corroborate victim testimony. • Provide specialized services to child victims in foster care homes and mixed-use shelters. • Ensure victims have access to appropriate mental health professionals during the interrogation process. • Develop a more comprehensive data collection system that disaggregates data, including by type of trafficking.


The government increased law enforcement efforts. Articles 147 and 157 of the criminal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties ranging from two to 12 years’ imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with regard to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Five specialized prosecutors led the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases in country. Authorities investigated eight trafficking cases (one sex trafficking, six labor trafficking, and one child trafficking), compared with 13 in 2019. The government initiated prosecutions of 40 suspected traffickers, a substantial increase from 24 in 2019, and convicted 16 traffickers, compared with 12 in 2019. Of the 16 convicted traffickers, 12 received prison sentences with terms ranging from one to eight years. Government officials reported that collecting adequate evidence remained a problem in prosecuting trafficking cases, particularly since trafficking activity recently shifted online to methods that did not include physical coercion. As a result of the pandemic, remote court hearings became the main litigation tool, which according to law enforcement posed challenges. In addition, the pandemic compounded the already existing difficulties associated with communication and cooperation between law enforcement officials in Lithuania and other countries. Nonetheless, the government collaborated with foreign counterparts in 21 international trafficking investigations (42 in 2019), including a joint investigation with authorities from Spain and the United Kingdom (UK) on a labor trafficking case, which involved eight Lithuanian victims and resulted in two arrests. The general prosecutor’s office received no extradition requests, the same as in 2019, and issued six European arrest orders in trafficking cases, compared with three in 2019. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses. The general prosecutor’s office organized a virtual training on protecting refugees from trafficking for 14 prosecutors and 28 border officials; 34 border officials received anti-trafficking training from the State Border Guards Service. The National Court Administration organized anti-trafficking training modules for judges. Additionally, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) hosted a national seminar on preventing trafficking and assisting victims; more than 250 law enforcement officers, municipal employees, psychologists, social workers, diplomats, lawyers, and judges participated.


The government maintained protection efforts. Authorities identified 24 victims, the lowest number of identified victims since 2013 (36 in 2019); however, amid reports indicating foreign workers were at high risk to exploitation, authorities identified 11 foreign victims in 2020, an increase from six in 2019. As in previous years, experts raised concerns that the data collected across government agencies and civil society was inconsistent and did not provide a comprehensive picture of the trafficking situation. While authorities implemented formal victim identification and referral mechanisms for victim assistance, observers reported authorities in some parts of the country underutilized both and lacked the skills to identify victims. Additionally, observers reported the mechanisms lacked best practices for how to interview victims, especially children, and as a result, victims were often questioned several times, placing them under additional stress.

In accordance with European Parliament directives, the government passed a law entitling all crime victims, including trafficking victims, access to assistance, including counseling, regardless of whether victims sought assistance from law enforcement. The government allocated €245,000 ($301,000) to NGOs for victim assistance, an increase from €190,000 ($233,000) in 2019. Government-funded NGOs supported 208 trafficking victims, including the 24 identified victims and at-risk individuals, compared with 224 in 2019. A formal mechanism existed between police and NGOs to refer victims to NGO facilities; however, NGOs alleged authorities did not refer all victims to care facilities. Facilities provided short- or long-term assistance, such as health care, psychological and social counseling, and shelter, to trafficking victims. Authorities placed Lithuanian female trafficking victims in municipal and NGO-facilitated shelters for victims of domestic violence and had the option to place foreign victims at a refugee reception center in Rukla. Five crisis centers provided assistance to male victims, including finding accommodations. Authorities placed child victims in foster care homes or mixed-use shelters, as there were no shelters specifically for child trafficking victims. Experts raised concerns about inadequate protection and assistance measures for child victims. According to observers, child protective services struggled to identify child victims and refer them to care, especially in rural areas. In 2020, authorities identified one child victim, compared with four in 2019. Child protective services organized a training on identifying child victims for 63 child rights specialists with plans to expand the training to more specialists. Child sexual abuse victims, including trafficking victims, could seek assistance in the government-operated national support center in Vilnius. Municipalities continued to finance and implement reforms to the institutional child care system with the goal to move all children from institutions to families. As part of the reforms, municipalities converted large institutions into community houses, which accommodated up to eight children. In 2020, 567 children lived in community homes, and 1,200 children remained in state care homes. The minister of social affairs and labor signed a decree prohibiting the placement of new children into care at orphanages as of January 1, 2020. Foreign trafficking victims had the same access to care as Lithuanian victims. Legislation allowed foreign victims a 30-day reflection period to decide whether to cooperate with law enforcement; foreign victims cooperating with law enforcement could receive temporary residency.

During the reporting period, the government passed amendments to the anti-trafficking law, which included a non-punishment provision establishing that labor trafficking victims not be penalized for committing offenses related to forced labor and services. While the government encouraged victims to cooperate in investigations and prosecutions, the absence of a clear policy on how victims would be adequately protected and law enforcement’s shortcomings in this area contributed to victims’ reluctance to assist in cases. In particular, traffickers sometimes threatened victims as they were entering or exiting the courtroom, and victims lacked access to mental health professionals during or after their interviews by law enforcement. Although the government provided legal representation to victims, observers reported attorneys had little experience with trafficking issues; as a result, NGOs often hired private attorneys for victims. There were no state-run victim compensation programs, but victims could apply to the court for financial compensation from their trafficker. In 2020, 20 victims applied for compensation, and courts ordered payment of €29,000 ($35,600) in non-material damage and €5,340 ($6,550) in material damage.


The government increased prevention efforts. The government approved a new NAP for 2020-2022 and allocated approximately €375,000 ($460,000) for implementation. The NAP focused on strengthening interagency coordination; improving prevention work; strengthening the pre-trial investigations process; and improving assistance to trafficking victims. The government developed the NAP in consultation with multiple national and local agencies and NGOs. The government participated in a range of awareness-raising activities, including developing a smart phone application to teach children about trafficking and staging trafficking-themed live performances and videos. The police advertised and managed an email account that the public could use to report potential trafficking situations and solicit advice. During the reporting period, the government launched a 24-hour national hotline available in multiple languages to assist trafficking victims via NGOs, and it reported that NGOs assisted 208 victims. The government made efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts by fining five individuals for buying sexual services (16 in 2019).

A specialized trafficking police officer served as an attaché in the Lithuanian embassy in the UK to assist in international investigations involving Lithuanian citizens in the UK and Ireland. In Spain, the MOI funded a project focused on preventing labor exploitation of the Lithuanian community, which included more than 28,000 Lithuanians. In cooperation with Poland and Sweden, the MOI conducted a study aimed at identifying recruitment methods and tools used by employment agencies to recruit Lithuanians to work under exploitative conditions. The State Labor Inspectorate trained 52 new inspectors on identifying labor trafficking cases and launched a special group of inspectors to manage forced labor cases. The inspectorate and police inspected construction sites, hotels, and restaurants to ensure employers were complying with the law regarding third country nationals and reported 29 illegally hired individuals as potential labor trafficking victims.


As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Lithuania, and traffickers exploit victims from Lithuania abroad. Law enforcement reports most trafficking cases involve Lithuanian trafficking networks that prey on Lithuanian victims. As a result of the pandemic, traffickers have shifted recruitment methods from in-person to online settings, mainly through social media, hindering authorities’ ability to locate victims and identify traffickers. Traffickers exploit Lithuanian men and boys in criminal activities, such as shoplifting, and Lithuanian women and children in commercial sex in Scandinavia and Western Europe, particularly Spain and the UK. They also continue to exploit women and girls in sex trafficking within the country. NGOs report the majority of trafficking cases occur within Lithuania. Many trafficking victims have some degree of mental disability, psychological problems, and/or alcohol or drug addiction. Authorities report women are recruited for brokered marriages abroad; these women are vulnerable to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, and forced labor. Reports indicate the exploitation of foreign workers from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. Foreign workers are at risk of labor trafficking as long-haul truck drivers, builders, ship hull assemblers, and welders. The 1,200 children institutionalized in approximately 49 child care institutions are vulnerable to trafficking.