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Human Rights Groups Urge Thorough Follow-up of Recent Incident of Police Violence and Abuse of Romani Boys in Slovakia

21 April 2009

Budapest, London: Today, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and Amnesty International (AI) called for the government of Slovakia to ensure that a thorough and unbiased investigation is conducted of the recent incident of physical abuse, inhuman and degrading treatment of six Romani boys in Kosice, Slovakia, by the police. In a letter to the government and police officials, ERRC and AI requested that the perpetrators be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, that adequate compensation be provided to the victims and that senior government and police officials offer apologies for the suffering caused by the responsible police officers.

The incident was made public when graphic video footage of the responsible officers forcing six Romani boys, aged 11-16, to violently hit each other, strip naked, and kiss was released to the daily newspaper SME. The ERRC and AI welcomed the prompt response from government and police officials calling for the immediate dismissals of those involved and full investigation into the incident, including the possibility of a racial motive.

According to Slovakia's commitments under international law, the government has an obligation to protect the right of all persons to freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. The police officers appear to have severely violated these rights and the domestic criminal code, particularly as they targeted children from a vulnerable minority group, who may have suffered lasting psychological damage as a result of this treatment.

The ERRC and AI also expressed their deep concern about the tendency of police representatives to remark on the alleged criminal actions of the Romani boys, rather than solely denouncing the violent, degrading actions of the police officers. The organisations urged officials to refrain from such statements, which detract from the strength of their condemnation of the police violence and may influence the investigation into the perpetrators of the abusive and illegal treatment of children.

The full text of the letter is available HERE.

For further information, contact:
Tara Bedard, ERRC Programmes Coordinator, (English): tara.bedard@errc.org
Stanislav Daniel, ERRC Consultant, (English and Slovak): stanko.daniel@errc.org


 

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