Fedorchenko and Lozenko v Ukraine
Forum: European Court of Human Rights
ERRC role: Representative
The case Fedorchenko and Lozenko v Ukraine is a discrimination case concerning the failure to investigate what the European Court of Human Rights described as a ‘heinous’ attack: five Romani people, including three children, died after a violent arson attack. Three men (including, allegedly, one high-ranking police officer) deliberately set the family home on fire, breaking into the house to spray it with flammable liquid. They then barred the door of the house from outside and fled. Five of the family members died from extensive burns and smoke inhalation, including children who were three, six and 15 years old.
The severely flawed investigation by the Ukrainian authorities meant that those responsible were never brought to justice, and the police officer’s role was never properly established.
In 2002, ERRC brought an application on behalf of Mr Fedorchenko and Ms Lozenko (the parents and grandparents of the dead) to the European Court of Human Rights. In addition to claiming that an official was responsible for the attack and that there had not been a proper investigation, the applicants also claimed that the attack and the subsequent failure to investigate were linked to widespread discrimination against Roma in Ukraine.
Ten years after this case was filed, the European Court found that Ukraine had failed to meet the procedural requirements of Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights (right to life) by failing to conduct an effective investigation into deaths. The failure to establish whether there were racist motives for the attack also resulted in a breach of Article 14 (right to be free from discrimination).
The Court stated in its judgment: ”Given the widespread discrimination and violence against Roma in Ukraine as noted, in particular, by the report of the ECRI, it cannot be excluded that the decision to burn the houses had been additionally nourished by ethnic hatred and thus it necessitated verification…The Court, however, notes that there is no evidence that the authorities have conducted any investigation into the possible racist motives of this crime...The Court considers it unacceptable that in such circumstances an investigation, lasting over eleven years, did not give rise to any serious action with a view to identifying or prosecuting the perpetrators.”