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Migration Department need restructuring, not scrapping

VILNIUS – Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite has voiced disagreement with Interior Minister Eimutis Misiunas' proposal to scrap the Migration Department.

In her words, problems of the migration system should be solved by restructuring the institution rather than dividing its functions among other institutions.

"The Migration Department should be restructured by purifying its functions to make it a European center of competences living up to today's challenges, not closed down," said the president.

"Shaping of migration policies cannot be handed over to statutory organizations, as migration processes have to do with more than just safety of people but also with ensuring human rights and liberties, protection of personal data and the country's international commitments," Grybauskaite said in a comment received by BNS from her press service.

In her words, scrapping of the Migration Department would run counter to the European Union (EU) law and international practice.

"United Nations recommendations emphasize that migration issues should be addressed by an independent institution, which is separate from the police and the border service. This is the practice in many EU members," said Grybauskaite.

Meanwhile, the interior minister said that handing of the Migration Department's functions to the police would boost the control of decisions made by officers and improve the quality of the decisions.

The ministry said 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.

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