Roma Experience Difficulties in Accessing Justice After Pogrom in Ukraine
18 May 2007
In October 2006, Ukrainian authorities suspended criminal proceedings in the case of nineteen Romani families whose homes were looted and burned following their expulsion by angry villagers in the village of Petrovka in Ukraine's Odessa Oblast in September 2002. The case was reportedly dropped because law enforcement authorities had not identified the perpetrators.
According to ERRC documentation conducted in partnership with the Romani organisation Ame Roma, in September 2002, at around 1.00 AM, two Romani men severely beat a 17- year-old Ukrainian boy, who later died from his injuries, during a fight outside a café. The two men were held criminally liable for the death. Following the funeral of the victim, a group of local residents expelled the Romani residents of the village via the use of threats and violence. The nineteen Romani families concerned fled their homes and the village while local police, fully aware of the situation, did nothing to prevent the violence, and, in some cases, assisted in the expulsion of the families from the village. ERRC research revealed that after the Romani families fled, their homes were robbed and set on fire. Several days later when they returned to the village, they were advised by the local authorities to move away to a different region. With the assitance of Romani Zbora, a Romani NGO, and the ERRC, applications were collected from 19 victims of the attack and sent to the regional prosecutor's office in Odessa requesting that a criminal investigation be initiated. The criminal investigation was closed in April 2003 because the perpetrators were not identified. After appeal and an order from the Prosecutor General to re-open the investigation, the criminal proceedings were suspended in October 2006 due to impossibility to identify the perpetrators. In December 2006, a complaint was filed before the Ivanovsk court of Odessa seeking a court order to conduct a new investigation.