Up to 20 years: Lithuania’s MP proposes to give harsher sentences to migrant smugglers

Lithuanian deputy Linas Jonauskas came up with a proposal to stiffen penalties imposed on organisers and contributors to illegal migration, Russian news agency TASS reports.

Linas Jonauskas.
Photo: m.kauno.diena.lt

The corresponding amendment to the Criminal Code of Lithuania has been registered in the Secretariat of Lithuania’s Seimas. It is to be submitted to the plenary session on September 30.

If the amendment is adopted, those involved in fostering illegal migration will face imprisonment of up to 20 years.

“Such a step would be a clear signal that Lithuania does not intend to put up with this illegal activity that causes damage to the state which is forced to finance taking additional measures for protecting the border and accommodating illegal migrants entering Lithuania,” Jonauskas said.

Currently, the maximum punishment for people smugglers is 10 years in prison; the minimum term that one can get for committing the above mentioned crime is 4 years of imprisonment.

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The total number of migrants who have illegally crossed the Belarusian-Lithuanian border in 2021 has exceeded 4,100, which is 50 times more than in the whole year of 2020. To put that in context, the Lithuanian side detained 46 illegal migrants in the year of 2019, 104 – in 2018, 72 – in 2017. Poland and Latvia have also faced the challenge of irregular migration this year.

As reported earlier, in response to Western sanctions imposed on the regime in 2021, Alyaksandr Lukashenka threatened to loosen control over the flow of migrants and banned substances (even nuclear materials) at the border with the European Union. Unfortunately, he is sticking to his word, and the scale of the hybrid aggression waged by the Belarusian authorities has resulted in the growth of the flow of irregular migration.

Lithuania, along with other EU member countries, accuses the Belarusian border guards of ignoring the trespassers and even assisting them in their illegal moving. The European Union sent employees of the EU Agency for External Border Security (Frontex) to Lithuania in order to strengthen the protection of the the EU-Belarus border from illegal migrants.

On August 3, Lithuania’s border service started to divert illegal migrants entering the country from Belarus.

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