Other than the Lithuanian President’s decision last month not to grant citizenship to ice dancer Katherine Copely, things have been rather quiet on the citizenship front. However, this week, there is some news.
The current citizenship law in Lithuania adopted in mid-2008, which has been the basis of my popular “Guide to a Passport” series, was set to expire on the first day of 2010. On Tuesday, however, the Seimas voted to extend the deadline to 1 July, 2010. The reason given is that not enough time has elapsed since the results of the president’s council on citizenship were submitted in late October.
Incorporating appeals to the Constitutional Court (Konstitucinis Teismas), the new project would try to develop a plan regarding dual citizenship that avoids a legal limbo while waiting for it to be declared unconstitutional. The main hangup of the current project is in part 7.5 of the proposed law on citizenship, which declares that a Lithuanian citizen can maintain her citizenship if she
yra lietuvių kilmės asmuo, išvykęs iš Lietuvos po 1990 m. kovo 11 d. ir įgijęs Europos Sąjungos ar Šiaurės Atlanto Sutarties Organizacijos valstybės narės pilietybę.
is a person of Lithuanian descent who left Lithuania after 11 March 1990 and acquired citizenship of a nation that is a member either of the European Union or NATO.
Žmogaus teisių negalima varžyti ir teikti jam privilegijų dėl jo lyties, rasės, tautybės, kalbos, kilmės, socialinės padėties, tikėjimo, įsitikinimų ar pažiūrų pagrindu.
A person’s rights cannot be infringed upon, nor can a person be granted privileges based on his or her sex, race, ethnicity, language, descent, social standing, religion, creed, or beliefs.
Considering that the Court already struck down similar language when dual citizenship became an issue in the first place, I’m not sure why they would change their minds this time. At that time, they decided that the “tauta” to whom belongs the “suvernitetas,” as prescribed in the opening articles of the Lithuanian Constitution, is backformed from the population of citizens, making a tautology between citizenship and “tautybė.” It seems to me that following this logic, the article in the proposed law above could be kept, but it would mean “a Lithuanian citizen who left Lithuania…” In that case, it fails the rareness test for dual citizenship as prescribed in the Constitution. Getting rid of it, however, would also erase the crypto-racist effect that diaspora communities are seeking: dual citizenship only for ethnic Lithuanians, not for Russians, Jews, Poles, etc.
Furthermore, the proposed law could go against the Treaty of Lisbon, which is now three days into being in effect. The Treaty incorporates the text of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which includes, in Article 21:
1. Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.
Of course, Lithuania’s already flaunting non-compliance with this article in their legalizing discrimination against homosexuals.
But we’ll see what happens.