Ukrainian Police Fingerprint Roma
11 March 2005
One of the victims of the early morning raid, Mr Tiberij Tyrpak informed Romani Yag that three persons in camouflage clothes and masks entered his home and demanded his documents. When Mr Tyrpak produced his identity card, the persons had a look at them and ordered him to immediately get dressed and follow them. When Mr Tyrpak asked for an explanation, the answer was: "If you fail to get dressed before I count up to three, you will get what you deserve for not complying." Mr Tyrpak did not manage to get dressed in the allotted time and sustained strong blows to his left ear and on his back. The masked men then reportedly tore the vest he was wearing then took him to the bus. Mr Tyrpak stated, "There were already about ten men, some were crying with pain." As they were forcefully entering the home of another Romani family, police officers tore the door off of its hinges. When he requested information as to the reason for the raid, the leader of the Telmana community was informed by one of the officers that, "This raid is for 'processing' Gypsies". A tape recorder was reportedly confiscated from one of the homes.
Most of the Roma forced onto the waiting bus were reportedly not given any explanation as to the cause of the action, nor did many of them have time to put on warm clothes despite the cold winter weather. One of the Romani men forced onto the bus, Mr Ivan Surmai, told Romani Yag that he was handcuffed to the bus seat and officers continued to beat him and members of "Berkut" reportedly threatened to "beat his kidney off". Approximately forty Romani men were taken to the Uzhgorod City Police Station. The victims testified to Romani Yag that they were force to enter the building through a corridor of police officers with their hands on their heads. The officers forming the corridor reportedly beat the men with rubber truncheons on their heads and legs as they walked through. At the police station, the Romani men called one by one into Room No. 6, where they were finger- and hand-printed. Some of the individuals with whom Romani Yag spoke also reported that the officers looked into their mouths and checked their teeth.
On January 20, Romani Yag visited the chief of the Uzhgorod City Police Station and wrote a letter expressing its concern to Mr I. Poroshkovskij, head of Transcarpathian County Police, copies of which were sent to the chief of Uzhgorod City Police, the Uzhgorod City Prosecutor and the Romani human rights association "Chachipe". The head of Transcarpathian County Police responded, promising to bring those responsible for abuse of power in the raid to justice and agreeing to a meeting on February 8 to discuss ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future. On February 17, 2005, Romani Yag received a letter from Mr I. Poroshkovskij in which the head of the Transcarpathian County Police notified Romani Yag about the results of the internal investigation which found all actions of police in the raid on January 20 lawful. On the date of publication the ERRC was planninglegal action in the matter.