Prohibition of all corporal punishment in Lithuania (2017)
Lithuania expressed its intention to prohibit all corporal punishment of children to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2006. In 2011, the Government reaffirmed its commitment by accepting clearly the recommendation to prohibit in the home made during the Universal Periodic Review of Lithuania. Despite these commitments, Bills which would have achieved prohibition were rejected by the legislator in 2010 and 2013.
In 2016, amendments to the Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child 1996 were introduced with the aim of prohibiting all corporal punishment. In response to public outcry following the death of a young child as a result of physical abuse, the Seimas – the Lithuanian Parliament – held an extraordinary session on 14 February 2017. The Seimas voted unanimously in favour of the amendments, achieving fundamental reform for children.
Article 1 of the amending Law inserts definitions of corporal punishment and violence in article 2 of the Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child 1996 (unofficial translation):
1. Corporal punishment - any punishment in which physical force is used to cause physical pain, even on a small scale, or otherwise to physically torture a child.
2. Violence against the child - another person's acts or inaction experienced by the child that have physical, psychological, sexual, economic and other implications to the child or result in neglect, due to which the child suffers damage and threat to their life, health, development, honour and dignity, including domestic violence and corporal punishment”
Corporal punishment is also included in the definition of physical violence (art. 2-1).
Article 4 of the Law amends article 10.2 of the Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child 1996 to state (unofficial translation):
2. Children have the right to be protected from of all forms of violence, including corporal punishment, by their parents, other legal representatives, persons living with them or other persons.”
Previously, article 49.1 of the 1996 Law recognised parents a “right to discipline” their child. Article 5 of the 2017 Law amends article 49.1 which now reads (unofficial translation):
1. Parents and other legal representatives of the child may appropriately, according to their judgment, discipline the child, for avoiding to carry out his duties and for disciplinary infractions, with the exception of corporal punishment and any other form of violence.”
The Law also sets out the State’s obligations in protecting children from all forms of violence (art. 3) from any person caring a child, inserting article 6.9 (unofficial translation):
9. The State shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to ensure the protection of the child from all forms of violence, including corporal punishment, which the child may suffer from the parents, other legal representatives of the child, or any other persons looking after the child."
The obligations of parents, guardians, carers, teachers and other institutional workers are expanded upon in articles 6 and 7.
Once signed by the President of the Republic or the Speaker of the Seimas, the law comes into force the day after its official inclusion into the Register of Legal Acts.
- Global Initiative country report for Lithuania
- Law amending the Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child 1996 (Lithuanian) English translation coming soon