The Lithuanian parliament adopted on Thursday amendments to the Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child.
All 71 lawmakers present voted in favor of the amendments. Seventy-one is the minimum quorum for passing a bill.
Those voting in favor were lawmakers of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labor Party (LSDLP), the Order and Justice Party, and the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance, as well as two conservative MPs and several non-attached members of the parliament.
The package will take effect in May if signed into law by President Dalia Grybauskaite.
In late March, the opposition broke the quorum to block the adoption of the amendments over LFGU leader Ramunas Karbauskis’ proposal to include the criterion of “significant harm” to a child’s health when removing a child from parental care.
Some lawmakers argue that the amendment will justify a certain level of violence against children, while some family organizations maintain that this will help prevent an unjustified removal of children from their parents.
The amendments were drafted in response to public discontent sparked by a high-profile case in which children were taken away from their family.
Under the amended law, separation of children from parents against their will can only be used as a last resort when it is necessary to protect a child from a real danger to his or her physical and mental safety, health or life, or significant harm to their health, and there are no other ways to protect them.
It also allows leaving a child aged under six years under the care of family members aged between 7 and 13 years for up to 15 minutes in a safe environment.
Under the existing law, parents cannot leave such a child under the care of someone aged less than 14 years unless it is objectively necessary.