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Slovakia and Ukraine Must Investigate Attacks against Roma

25 June 2012

Budapest, Bratislava, Kiev, 25 June 2012: Romani individuals have been attacked, killed and threatened in two separate incidents in Slovakia and Ukraine in the last month. The European Roma Rights Centre has sent letters to the authorities calling for a full and transparent investigation into the events.

In Slovakia, an off-duty policeman killed three Romani people, and injured two others in a shooting attack in Hurbanovo. The 51-year-old municipal police officer shot dead three Romani people and wounded another two. The officer shot dead a 44-year-old man, his son (19) and son-in-law (24) on 16 June 2012.  The officer involved has since been arrested on three counts of premeditated murder, attempted murder, and illegal weapons possession.

The ERRC is concerned that comments by high ranking Slovak authorities could impede a full, unbiased and transparent investigation. In a media briefing, the Slovak Interior Minister Róbert Kaliňák said the victims of the assault are known to police and that four of the five reportedly have criminal pasts. The Mayor and Chief of Police have also publicly stated support for the officer. Based on media reports to date, it is not clear whether or not racial motivation is being investigated in this case.

In Ukraine, a Romani settlement in Kiev was burned to the ground by unknown perpetrators on May 31. The settlement was home to about 70 people. Residents of the settlement reported that during the attack they were ordered by their assailants to “disappear from Kiev”, and the perpetrators also threatened to shoot the residents. Many Romani individuals lost valuable personal documents, including passports.  Sources quoted in the media have claimed that law enforcement officers were ordered to ““sweep” the settlement, i.e. get rid of it. A police spokesperson said that they were continuing to investigate reports of police involvement in the incident.

The incidents are part of ongoing trend of violence against Roma. In Romania two Romani individuals were recently killed in incidents involving law enforcement.

State authorities have a responsibility to investigate all attacks against Romani people, and to consider any racial motivation. The ERRC is calling on authorities to publicly denounce every instance of anti-Roma violence, and provide law-enforcement with the relevant training on how to deal with instances involving attacks on national minorities.

The letter to Ukrainian authorities is also available in Russian.

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