People in Lithuania have become more forthcoming in reporting discrimination. The Seimas Office of Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson has received 260 complaints so far this year, significantly up nearly 30% on the 202 submitted last year.
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

On Thursday, the internationally-observed Human Rights Day, the Office said that it had opened more investigations into reported discrimination cases in 2015 than any other year since its inception in 1999.

By December 10, the Office of Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson had launched 319 investigations: based on 260 cases reported by members of the public and 59 investigations it started on its own initiative.

About half of the cases (48 percent) concern state institutions, mostly related to possibly discriminatory legislation. A third of the investigations were launched about alleged discrimination in employment, although in previous years those cases made up the biggest share of total investigations.

Only four investigations in 2015 concerned discrimination in education institutions. Fifty-one cases of discrimination were reported in the field of goods and services provision.

Agneta Lobačevskytė, the Equal Opportunities Ombudswoman, notes that although her office received more complaints from Lithuanian citizens this year than ever before, there is still a need to educate people about equal opportunities and their rights.

Since September, Lobačevskytė has visited 24 municipalities in Lithuania and says she has noticed instances of discrimination in many of them.

One point of concern, she says, is prejudice against refugees among local populations.

"Because of this situation, it is likely that there will be more complaints about discrimination in the future," Lobačevskytė said in a statement.

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