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Anguelova v Bulgaria

13 June 2002

Facts: A Bulgarian national and Roma woman, brought a claim against the Bulgarian government on behalf of her son, Anguel Zabchekov, who died at age 17 while in police custody. The applicant's son, allegedly attempting to break into cars, was arrested and taken to the police station around 1:00 a.m.. By 5:00 a.m., he was pronounced dead. The autopsy indicated that Anguel's cause of death was a skull fracture sustained four to six hours before his death. A later report stated that Anguel was injured at least ten hours before his death. Investigators, based on the latter report, concluded that the police were not responsible for Anguel's death and the investigation was dropped.

Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (right to be free from inhuman treatment): violation

The State failed to meet its burden to provide a satisfactory and convincing explanation refuting the applicant's charges. The fact that officers were not asked to explain why they had forged the detention register, failed to promptly call for an ambulance, and lied concerning the facts of the situation contributed to the Court's conclusion.

The Court also found a violation of Article 2 as regards the ineffective investigation of Anguel's death, reiterating that per McCann and Kaya, the investigation must be "thorough and careful." After listing the defects of the investigation, the Court found that it lacked objectivity and thoroughness, which undermined its ability to establish the cause of Mr. Zabchekov's death and those responsible.

The government failed to provide a plausible explanation for the injuries indicative of inhuman treatment beyond the threshold of severity permitted under Article 3.

Article 14 (right to be free from discrimination): no violation

The applicant alleged that the police officers' and investigating authorities' perception of her son as a Roma was a decisive factor in their actions (or lack thereof). The court denied the claim as the allegations were not proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Judge Bonello issued a strong dissent arguing for a lowered burden of proof for Article 14 allegations, stating: 

"[n]o more effective tool could be devised to ensure that the protection against racial discrimination becomes illusory and inoperative than requiring from a victim a standard of proof that, in other civil law disputes, is required of no one else." He also argued that the Court should apply the same system of burden shifting that it applied in Assenov, stating "when a member of a disadvantaged minority group suffers harm in an environment where racial tensions are high and impunity of State offenders epidemic, the burden to prove that the event was not ethnically induced should shift to the Government."

The full text of the decision is available HERE.

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ERRC submission to UN HRC on Hungary (February 2018)

14 February 2018

Written Comments of the European Roma Rights Centre concerning Hungary to the UN Human Rights Committee for consideration at its 122nd session (12 Narch - 6 April 2018).

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The Fragility of Professional Competence: A Preliminary Account of Child Protection Practice with Romani and Traveller Children in England

24 January 2018

Romani and Traveller children in England are much more likely to be taken into state care than the majority population, and the numbers are rising. Between 2009 and 2016 the number of Irish Travellers in care has risen by 400% and the number of Romani children has risen 933%. The increases are not consistent with national trends, and when compared to population data, suggest that Romani and Traveller children living in the UK could be 3 times more likely be taken into public care than any other child. 

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Families Divided: Romani and Egyptian Children in Albanian Institutions

21 November 2017

There’s a high percentage of Romani and Egyptian children in children’s homes in Albania – a disproportionate number. These children are often put into institutions because of poverty, and then find it impossible ever to return to their families. Because of centuries of discrimination Roma and Egyptians in Albania are less likely to live in adequate housing, less likely to be employed and more likely to feel the effects of extreme poverty.

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