European Foundation of Human Rights has been fighting for the rights to original name spelling in Lithuanian documents. Unfortunately courts are often helpless.
-We want to show that it is an important matter to Lithuanian citizens. We encourage everyone, who shares similar problem, to turn to European Foundation of Human Rights. Families of Pauwels, Gorecki-Mickiewicz and Jacquet participated in the conference organized by the Foundation. Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania made its final decision – ordered the name to be spelled in Lithuanian alphabet on the main passport page, but in the original version – on the further pages. These families are planing to turn to the European Court of Human Rights. They issued a statement turned to the head of authorities in Lithuania.
-These are not the only cases. Every sixth family in Lithuania is a mixed family. The amount of cases proves that we do have a problem and we direct it to deputies who can help us – Says Ewelina Baliko – European Foundation of Human Rights lawyer.
– Our son has always had his name originally spelled in birth certificate and identity documents – Jacquet. Now when changing the documents, migration authorities demand Lithuanian spelling – Žakė.
It is a totally different surname. Such demands offend a young person and his identity. We do not feel safe in this country, which does not care for children’s rights. Changing surnames is contradictory to human rights – said Jurgita Daugmaudytė, mother of Joran Jacquet. Roman Gorecki-Mickiewicz has been fighting for the original name spelling of his 13 year old daughter Alexi for years.
-My daughter was born in Lithuania and her name is spelled with x and w letters in all documents. When we wanted to apply for a new passport, officials informed us that it is not possible to transcript personal data with those letters – he explained during the press conference.
-Of course I do not agree the name of my daughter to be changed. We have chosen this name at her birth and were interested in its etymology. We decided on such spelling, although knowing already back then from some of our friends, that we might have difficulties with original spelling – highlights Jovita Bugvilaitė, mother of Alexi.
What happens if migration department rejects passport issuing with originally spelled name? I will not have Lithuanian passport’ girl said. Currently Alexia uses birth certificate in Lithuania and travels with a French passport. Migration Department refuses to issue a new document before the spelling is changed in birth certificate. The family does not give permission for that. Together with EFHR they are planning to fail a complaint to European Court of Human Rights. Ewelina Baliko, EFHR lawyer admits that the situation is absurd.
-It is not about won or lost cases, but about people who do not get their passport after decision of the court. It refers to Pauwels, where Migration Department rejects passport issuing, until the surname is spelled in Lithuanian form. Such different types of spelling bring practical problems, for example when settling taxes or when going abroad. Mickewicz family shares the same problem. Despite court’s decision Migration Department rejects issuing documents – he explains. According to Baliko, Migration Department overuses its powers.
-According to the law name and surname must be written as it is in public records. At one of the meetings Migration Department’s representative in Kaunas stated that if the family has a problem with the surname, they can resign from Lithuanian Citizenship – says the lawyer. Probably in some cases, the fight for own surname with Lithuanian institution ends up with resignation.
Lithuanian citizen, who married a citizen from New Zealand has been fighting for the right to get her husband’s surname for one and a half year. She has been offered New Zealand citizenship. She is an adult, so getting a citizenship from other country should end up with resigning from Lithuanian – says Baliko.
From the age of 16 Lithuanian citizen must have a passport and can be convicted if she or he does not own it. What should we do when the institution refuses to issue the document?
-The act is necessary. It is only a political matter. There are no obstacles occurring even from The State Commission of the Lithuanian Language. There are no any technical problems which would unable the spelling. Moreover, passports with original spelling are being issued in some cities. Every institution acts the way it wants. Małgorzata Wardyn has a Lithuanian driving license with her surname written with w as well as marriage certificate. She does not have such spelling in passport – says lawyer. Lack of regulative laws has been highlighted in the recent court cases.
-Court stated that there is no proper act which regulates the problem with original name spelling. It is necessary to regulate this matter, so we turned to the Seimas to adopt the law, which allows the original spelling. Our plea is double. We ask Seimas for a particular act, but Lithuanian citizens, not to resign from solving this matter – says Baliko.
During the conference announcement made on the behalf of people, who coupe with the problem of original spelling of their names, has been introduced by Bart Pauwels. The letter has been sent to the president’s office, to Seimas, Government and to media.
Tłumaczenie by Agnieszka Piontek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Agnieszka Piontek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.