Comparative law and justice/Lithuania
Part of the Comparative law and justice Wikiversity Project
Phourahan 2352 22:22, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
- 1 Basic Information
- 2 Brief History
- 3 Economic Development, Health, and Education
- 4 Governance
- 5 Courts and Criminal Law
- 6 Rights
Lithuania is an Eastern European nation whose land was founded in 1236 however did not formally become its own country until 1795. It borders the Baltic Sea between Latvia and Russia. The capital of Lithuania is Vilnius, located in the central part of the nation. The main language spoken throughout Lithuania is Lithuanian. It is not a Slavic nation, which is contrary to what many believe. It is a highly literate nation and places very strong emphasis on education.
During World War I (1914-1918) the German military took over Lithuania, but at the end of the war, on 16 February 1918 in Vilnius, the Council of Lithuania declared Lithuania an independent state. In summer of 1922 the Lithuanian general assembly, in session since May 1920, approved a constitution that declared the country a democratic republic. During WWII, Lithuanian Independence became less recognized and for awhile, Lithuania was occupied by Germany once again.  During the late 1980s, there were rapid political changes in Eastern Europe and the USSR sparked a resurgence of Lithuanian nationalism. Lithuanian Independence was declared in March of 1990, but the USSR used economic, political, and military pressure to allow Lithuania to remain within the union. Soon after Soviet Communism collapsed in August of 1991, the central government granted independence to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia on September 6, which allowed all three Baltic nations to be admitted to the United Nations later that month.  In May of 1995, Lithuania became a new member of the European Union. Lithuania became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 29, 2004 after meeting the requirements of the state of treaty ratification in Washington, DC. Lithuania joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.  Lithuania currently is its own independent sovereign nation.
Economic Development, Health, and Education
Since the nations independence in March 1990, Lithuania has made increased progress in developing a market economy of its own. About half of state property has been privatized and trade has become very diverse with an increased shift away from the former Soviet Union to Western markets.  The Lithuanian economy supposedly bottomed out in 1994, and Vilnius's policies have laid the groundwork for intense recovery over the next few years. Recovery was built on Lithuanian's strategic location with its ice-free port at Klaipeda and its rail and highway hub in Vilnius which connected it with Eastern Europe, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia, and on its agriculture potential, highly skilled labor force, and very diverse industrial sector. Lithuania lacks important natural resources, so it will remain dependent on imports of fuels and raw materials. Lithuania has done most of its trade with Russia, faced its own economic and financial crisis in 1999 as a result of the government's inadequate economic policies, and its inadequate response to the August 1998 Russian financial crisis.  The year 2001 was an excellent year for the Lithuanian economy.
Lithuania guarantees free health care to all citizens.  In 1990 Lithuania had more than 14,700 physicians and 2,300 dentists; its ratio of forty-six physicians and dentists combined per 10,000 citizens is comparable favorably with that of most developed nations around the world. In addition, in 1990 Lithuania had more than 47,000 medical personnel, or 127 per 10,000 population and 46,200 hospital beds, or 124 beds per 10,000 population. In the healthcare profession, Lithuania's cardiologists are the most advanced in the former Soviet Union.  Important factors of Lithuania's health care is high alcoholism (191 cases per 100,000 persons), low drug use (3.1 cases per 100,000), and very few and rare diagnosis of (HIV) infection. Reported cases of HIV in 1992 were under 100. The main causes of death are heart diseases, accidents, cancer, and lung diseases. In addition to alcoholism, important risk factors for disease are smoking, a diet high in saturated fats, high blood pressure, and environmental pollution. 
The creation of the modern system of education in Lithuania started in the 1990s. The Lithuanian education system covers preschool, general secondary, vocational, junior college, higher, and adult education.  These various types of education are given at preschool education establishments, schools of general education, institutions, systems of vocational education, junior colleges, higher education institutions, and institutions of complementary and non-formal educational institutions.  Education at state and local general education schools, vocational schools and junior colleges is free of charge to all lithuanian citizens. The two types of higher education institutions in Lithuania are universities and colleges. In college and university-type institutions, university-level studies dominate; in colleges, non-university-level studies dominate. Admission to all levels of college and education takes place on a competitive basis according to the admission rules set put in place by the higher education institution and confirmed by the Ministry of Education and Science.
The nation of Lithuania is a parliamentary democracy meaning that it is a a political system where the legislature (parliament) selects the government - a prime minister, or chancellor along with the cabinet ministers, according to party strength demonstrated in elections, by this system, the government acquires a dual responsibility, to the people as well as to the parliament of Lithuania.  The President is elected for five years, by a majority of votes cast in parliament. If no candidate receives a majority vote, a run-off by the two top vote candidates is conducted. Some of the powers of the President of Lithuania are Establish, carry out, and implement foreign policy around the globe, grant pardons,and is Commander-in-chief of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and Chairman of the state defense council.
Members of the Seimas (general assembly of Lithuania) of Lithuania are elected for a four-year office term in 71 single-member constituencies and one multimember constituency on the grounds of universal and equal experience, by behind the scenes ballot in direct, mixed-system elections. Regular elections to the General Assembly are held on the year of the expiration of the authority of the Seimas members, on the second Sunday in October. 141 members of the general assembly are elected 71 - in single-member constituencies and 70 - in the multi-member constituency. In the multi-member constituency of Lithuania, it is voted for the lists of candidates and the rating of the candidates on the lists. The more votes are cast for a certain list, the larger the number of candidates from that list is elected into political office. Mandates are obtained only if a list receives at least 5% of the vote (in the case of a coalition -7%).
Judicial review in the Republic of Lithuania is practiced by the Constitutional Court, established after the restoration of independence, and by the system of the courts with the Supreme Court overseeing the lower courts. In Lithuania however, judicial review is not very common and is rarely practiced.
Courts and Criminal Law
The Lithuanian court system is based on the traditional legal traditions of Europe. Since 1990 the remnants of the imposed norms and practices have been eradicated of Soviet tradition.  The base of the Lithuanian court system consists of courts of general jurisdiction, which deals with civil and criminal matters concurrently.  The Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, as well as district and local courts carry out the functions of the Lithuanian court system.  Judges of the Court of Appeals are selected by the President with the approval of the Seimas (Congress) Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President directly. 
In Lithuania, it has been said that the Police Officers there are not very qualified, and cannot secure the citizens from danger. Unfortunately, this leads to a spillover in the Lithuanian legal system and specifically, the area of punishment. Lithuania is not very tough on crime.  The Office of the Procurator General is an independent institution that is responsible for enforcing the penal code and making sure that the detention of criminal suspects is based on reliable and trustworthy evidence of criminal activity. The conditions of prisons in Lithuania are primitive, a legacy of the Soviet period, but have not been the subject of international concern or criticism to the same extent as in Russia and other former Soviet countries.
The Seimas is the Lithuanian General assembly. It is made up of 141 members that are elected for a four-year term. Lithuanian legal system is made up of lawyers, judges, police officers, and other lower court magistrates similiar to that of the US legal system.
The Police, also known in Lithuanian as "POLIS" are the main agency of law enforcement in Lithuania. The Lithuanian Police Department operates under the command of the Ministry of the Interior. The Lithuanian Police is a statutory organization, making sure that public order and safety occur while detecting and investigating the criminal deeds and other violations of law as well as rendering other social aid for the people. The Lithuanian Police is made up of four different branches: local branches, educational police institutions, special police institutions, and the common branch of the Police Department under the Ministry of the Interior. The Lithuanian Police is overseen by the Police Commissioner General named VIZGIRDAS TELYČĖNAS. He would to us be referred to as the Chief or Colonel of Police.
Crime Rates and Public Opinion
The overall crime rate in Lithuania is relatively low, and is considered a safe country. However the crime rate steadily began to increase in the late 1990s, early 2000s. Most of the crimes that saw an increase during this time period were robberies, assaults, and drug offenses, mostly non-violent crimes. But just recently, in December 2010, it was determined that Vilnius, Lithuania has the highest murder rate in the EU. Lithuania on average saw about nine murders per 100,000 people every year from 2002-08, more than any other EU nation. Organized crime has recently become a growing problem for Lithuania. Organized crime in Lithuania consists of murder, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, radioactive material dealing, and human smuggling. Sex trafficking is also very common throughout the country. Most of the women are Lithuanian women who are coerced into a sex smuggling ring, and then exported to other European nations such as France, Germany, Italy, and the UK. As safe as Lithuania is considered to be, organized crime is about to put Lithuania's safe reputation in jeopardy. As far as public opinion is concerned in Lithuania, about 85% of its citizens support its government and its membership with the EU.
The constitution of Lithuania is made up of 154 Articles and was adopted by the people of Lithuania in 1992. Some main points and goals of the Lithuanian constitution are to defend the freedoms and independence of Lithuania, preserve the spirit, language, writing, and customs of Lithuania, and foster national concord in the nation of Lithuania..
During a divorce, a spouse may keep his or her married surname or the surname he or she had before the marriage. When a marriage is dissolved on the basis of the fault of one of the spouses, the court may at the request of the other spouse, prohibit the spouse at fault from retaining his or her married surname, except in cases where the spouses have children.  The courts of the Republic of Lithuania all have jurisdiction over actions of divorce, dissolution of marriage or separation in the cases provided for by the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania. The origin of a child shall be established either in accordance with the law of the state the citizenship of which the child received at his or her birth, or with the law of the state which is recognized as the domicile of the child at the time of his or her birth, or with the law of the state in which one of the child’s parents is domiciled, or with the law of the state the citizen of which one of the parents was at the time of the child’s birth, whichever is more beneficial to the child.
The legacy of the Soviet control over Lithuania still lingers to this day despite the many improvements made throughout the nation. Many Lithuanians have not adjusted well to the market economy and the Lithuanian economy and social class structure has become one of poverty and deep disparities in income. In 2003, the wealthiest 10 percent of the population of Lithuania controlled 28 percent of the country's wealth, while on the other hand, the poorest 10 percent of the population only controlled about 3 percent of the nation's wealth. In 2004, the poverty rate in Lithuania was 16 percent, however that wealth varies a lot. For example, the rural poverty rate is 28 percent due to its lower pay rates and higher unemployment rates among agricultural workers. In general, some 55.1 percent of those living in poverty were aged 15 or younger. Lithuania experiences the same type of social inequality seen and felt in the United States. Lithuania suffers from a great deal of corruption by government officials, and feels the same type of class separation as in many capitalistic nations around the globe. n 1998 the Seimas (Parliament) passed a law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. The new Law prohibits direct and indirect discrimination against men and women and lead to the establishment of a legal obligation for state and private companies to enact gender equality principles in employment, education, science, etc.
The goals of the Lithuanian human rights center are to
1.) Spread the knowledge about international and European Union human rights standards, promotion of tolerance and respect to diversity. 2.) build awareness raising on issues of vulnerable groups and minorities 3.) Observance of human rights standards at the national level, providing suggestions and consultations to the government and the legislators throughout Lithuania.