LITHUANIA: Child protection Ombudsman sacked

[16 March 2010] - Lithuania's Ombudsperson for Children has been let go after the country's parliament, the Seimas, voted against reinstating her at the end of her five-year tenure.

Rimante Salaseviciute was criticised by parliamentarians for spending more time protecting her position than the children of Lithuania, a claim she denies.

One of her critics, Seimas speaker Irena Degutiene, accused her of inaction over a child abuse case - the "Drasius Kedys case" - in which a man and a woman who allegedly abused a child were shot dead. Kedys, the main suspect in the case, has disappeared.

The killings prompted a blame game among politicians and led to the resignation of the country’s attorney general. Degutiene accused the former Ombudsperson of not doing all she could in the situation.

Salaseviciute responded, telling journalists at the Seimas: “Sincerely speaking, I am not convinced by the speaker of the parliament that her words are really her own opinion. I think I have the basis to say so. Last year, even from the current speaker I had the pleasure to hear very positive comments about the opinion of my office. That is why today I am not convinced that I was wrong as Ombudsman. This is my personal opinion.”

Some 73 parliamentarians voted in favour of firing Salaseviciute, one voted against, while 23 abstained.

In an interview with the newspaper Respublika last year, Salaseviciute said she had “no doubt that a paedophile network is operating in Lithuania.”

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