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Burlya v Ukraine (pending)

4 March 2016

The applicants are Ukrainian nationals of Roma ethnicity. They lived in the village of Petrivka, Ivanivskyy District, Odessa Region (Ukraine) where from 7 to 10 September 2002 a massive anti-Roma pogrom took place. Electricity and gas supplies to their homes were cut, their houses were set on fire, and their belongings, documents, and cars were destroyed.

Facts

On 7 September 2002 a 17 year-old ethnic Ukrainian was murdered in the village, allegedly by four young Romani men. The next day, a crowd of village residents gathered and demanded that the Roma be expelled from the village. On the same day, the village council decided to “support the decision of the meeting of the village residents to expel persons of Gypsy ethnicity from the village”. According to the applicants, the night before the violence, a representative of the District State Administration and the head of the local police advised them to leave the village, as a “pogrom” (that was the word they used) was about to start. On the night of 9-10 September, a crowd of several hundred people looted and set fire to the applicants’ houses and those of other Roma, destroying their belongings, documents, and cars. According to the applicants, the crowd threatened to kill them. Police officers were reportedly present in force and observed the attack. However, they did not try to prevent or stop it. After the events, the applicants had to move to another town and live with family and friends in overcrowded and inadequate conditions.

Domestic Proceedings

On 10 September 2002 the District Police initiated criminal proceedings against unknown persons on suspicion of disorderly conduct committed in a group. The investigation was suspended for failure to identify the perpetrators. On 5 June 2008 the District Court initiated proceedings concerning the claim brought by some of the applicants in which they challenged the decision to suspend the investigation. Those proceedings were still pending in 2010 when the ERRC lodged the application with the European Court on behalf of the applicants. On 3 May 2007 some of the applicants lodged a claim with the District Court seeking a finding that the failure of the DPO and the District Police to investigate was unlawful. The District Court dismissed the claim on the basis that the Odessa District Administrative Court had jurisdiction. Later, the Odessa District Administrative Court rejected the claim, holding that it fell outside the jurisdiction of the administrative courts.

The Complaint

The ERRC is representing the applicants before the European Court of Human Rights.  The applicants are complaining about breaches of their right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3 ECHR), their right to respect for private life, family life, and home (Article 8), and their right to property (Article 1 of Protocol no.1), all of which they claim were violated on grounds of their Roma ethnicity (Article 14).  They also complain that they did not have an effective domestic remedy in respect of their complaints (Article 13).

The application to the European Court was lodged on 11 January 2010, and the Court communicated the case to the Ukrainian Government on 11 February 2016.

You can find the Court’s statement of facts here.

You can find the statement of violations in the application submitted to the European Court here.

You can find the observations that the ERRC submitted in response to the Government’s observations here.

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