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Another Romani Man Dies in Macedonian Prison

5 April 2017

Budapest, Shtip 5 April 2017: The European Roma Rights Centre is taking Macedonian prison authorities to court, in the second case in less than a month involving the suspicious death of a young Romani man. Jusinov Erdal died on the 22 March in KPD Shtip prison (known locally as ‘the Sixth’) after medical treatment was apparently withheld for hours prior to his death. Jusinov was 25 years old, married, and the father of a 3-year-old boy, and 1-year-old girl.

According to testimonies, his health condition was excellent and he had no special health requirements or treatment schedule in the days before he died. There are accusations from sources within the prison and those closest to Jusinov that he was being mistreated by the prison guards and doctors. He was reportedly not getting enough food as the guards were taking it away from him. The day before he died, he allegedly complained to the prison doctor about toothache and pain in his head. The doctor is alleged to have told Jusinov he was faking his condition, called him ‘gypsy bastard’, and refused to treat him. Our sources say that on 17th March, the doctor gave him an unknown dosage of unlabeled pills without a prescription, which he took these until the day he died. Many eyewitnesses that the ERRC talked to are unable to give testimony for fear of reprisals from the individuals within the prison.

Jusinov Erdal died at 1:30 pm in the prison. His family were notified by his friends on the phone at about 3:00 pm. His brother immediately went to the prison to see him but was reportedly threatened by a guard and told that if he insisted on seeing his brother’s body he would be beaten, and was instructed to leave and return after five hours to take the body. The family noticed swelling around his forehead when they were eventually allowed to view the body.

The testimonies of those close to Jusinov as well as others within the prison, indicate serious anomalies and flaws in the behaviour of the prison service and doctors. He was allegedly refused first aid for four hours prior to his death, in circumstances which bear a striking resemblance to the events at KPU Idrizovo on 11 March which saw the death of a 21-year-old Romani man, Andrias Redjepov.

It is becoming more and more obvious that Romani lives are worth less than those of non-Roma to the people in charge of Macedonian prisons. I refuse to let Jusinov Erdal become just another unfortunate statistic of the prison system. I refuse to allow the death of Andrias Redjepov last month to become another tragic accident which couldn’t be prevented. These young men, and their families who were deprived of their sons, deserve a full and proper investigation into the competency of the people charged with their care. We will make sure that this issue does not go away for the Macedonian authorities.” said ERRC President, Đorđe Jovanović.

We demand a full investigation from the authorities into the cause of death of Jusinov Erdal. The autopsy report must be released to the family, and a detailed report made by the investigative judge and forensic experts should be produced.

The evidence for institutional violence against Roma in prisons is mounting up in Macedonia. A full investigation and prosecution (if appropriate) of this incident is necessary to protect the rights and safety of the entire Romani community who are being routinely discriminated against with deadly consequences. This investigation must be properly undertaken in accordance with a number of articles of domestic legislation as well as Article 14 (right to freedom from discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights, taken with Article 2 (the right to life).

The ERRC are providing legal assistance to the Erdal family, and collecting evidence to prosecute those responsible for the death of their son. If Macedonia are incapable of solving this issue on their own, we will take this further and ensure that any brutality, negligence or discrimination that is being allowed to continue in penal institutions is brought before the European Court of Human Rights.

Thıs press release is also available in Macedonian.

For more information contact:

Jonathan Lee
Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre
jonathan.lee@errc.org
+36 30 500 2118

Senada Sali
Lawyer
European Roma Rights Centre
senada.sali@errc.org
+36 30 950 0722

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