New Lithuanian Constitution Omits Clauses on Minorities; Effective Feb. 16

Leaders of Jewish and other minorities expressed concern today when the Government introduced the draft of the New Constitution at a special Parliamentary session, dropping the present Constitution’s provisions which guarantee cultural autonomy of minorities and prohibit special privileges for reasons of origin, nationality or religion.

The new Constitution, which is scheduled to go into effect on Feb. 16, Lithuania’s Independence Day, does not contain a single clause referring to minorities, and the only reassuring provision is a declaration that all citizens are equal before the law.

The old Constitution specifically gave national minorities cultural autonomy and the right to have their own administrative bodies to supervise their national and cultural life, and also the right to a share of State and municipal expenditures for education and social aid.

Representatives of various minorities voiced the fear that omission of these provisions might imply liquidation of minorities’ cultural and national autonomy.

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