Interior minister proposes to close down Migration Department

Eimutis Misiūnas

Lithuanian Interior Minister Eimutis Misiūnas proposed on Tuesday to abolish the country's Migration Department, which has been under criticism lately, and transfer its functions to the police.

A central migration unit would be set up within the Police Department to structurally combine the existing territorial police migration units in Lithuanian counties.

Under the plan, the structure would cover migration implementation processes related to citizenship issues, identity documents, residence permits, migration control, visa issuance and asylum applications.

The Migration Department has come under criticism over several decisions on grating asylum and residence permits, as well as a possible leak of information.

The online Laisvės TV reported last month that Anton Treushnikov, an advisor to the council of SMP, a bank linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, had held a Lithuanian residence permit for 11 years. The Migration Department annulled the permit last Friday.

The Interior Ministry has also launched an in-house probe into a possible leak of information from the Migration Department to third countries. This followed a report by the Delfi.lt news site that restricted information had been sent to the Russian Constitutional Court's judges on the reasons for banning them from coming to Lithuania for an international congress.

The ministry last summer criticized the Migration Department for its decision not to grant asylum to Yevgeni Titov, a Russian journalist.

The body is also struggling to handle the flow of visa applicants.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis proposed to close down the Migration Department back in 2015, when he held the post of interior minister, but the idea was not backed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė and some lawmakers.

Tomas Žilinskas, who replaced Skvernelis as interior minister in 2016, dropped plans to abolish the department.

Source: BNS
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