Ukrainian authorities fail to provide legal remedy to Roma

On January 8 and 9, 2000, in Kamenskoje, a village in the Transcarpathian region of western Ukraine, two incidents of abuse against Roma by non-Roma took place. On January 8, several young Roma were spending an evening in the local discotheque. At approximately 11 PM, one of them, a 14-year-old Romani girl named E.S. complained to her cousin, Mr Ivan Galambitsa, that she had been harassed by a drunk non-Romani man. After Mr Galambitsa asked the drunk person to stop harassing his cousin, a quarrel started which ended in a fight. Several local villagers joined the non-Romani man and all of them started beating Mr Galambitsa in the discotheque. As a result of the attack, Mr Galambitsa lost consciousness. He was taken to his uncle’s house on the same evening. According to eyewitnesses, a crowd of approximately forty persons subsequently gathered in the Romani settlement but were persuaded to leave. Mr Galambitsa reportedly received rudimentary medical treatment the same evening.

In the morning of the next day, January 9, witnesses state that a crowd gathered in the centre of Kamenskoje and that a number of police officers were present among persons gathered. Witnesses state that the owner of the discotheque got into a police car, also present at the scene. When two Romani women approached the car to ask what was going on, officers reportedly responded, “Nothing. Get ready for the evening. You will be set on fire.”

At approximately 1 PM, on January 9, according to the five Romani witnesses who were present in the house visiting their relative, the injured Mr Galambitsa, approximately 15 men forcefully entered the house where Mr Galambitsa was hiding and demanded that he be turned over to them. When the Roma refused to give up Mr Galambitsa and asked them instead to leave the house, the invaders started beating all Roma in the house with sticks, crowbars and clubs and to kick them. Then the Roma were pulled out of the house to the yard where the attackers hit Ms Julia Galambitsa on her head with a crowbar while she was trying to protect her son from the attackers. She suffered a concussion. Her husband, Mr Mikola Galambitsa, suffered rib fractures. Other persons injured in the attack include Mr Ivan Galambitsa, who had been beaten the day before, Mr Ivan Gabokhan and Mr Vasil’ Gabokhan. Following the attack, the victims were driven to a local hospital where they received first aid. According to witnesses’ testimonies, two investigators of the local police station paid a visit to the Roma making inquiries into what had happened, but no case was filed against the perpetrators as allegedly they are also friends of the local police officers.

Representatives of the Uzhorod-based organisation Romani Yag visited the settlement in Kamenskoje on January 14. According to local Roma, non-Romani villagers had gathered in the settlement during the night of January 13, broke windows in four Romani houses and allegedly beat one Romani man, Mr N.P. Witnesses recognised the attackers as persons from the neighbouring village of Khmelnik. The chief of the Irshava area police department Mr Marushinets reportedly told representatives of Romani Yag that there is no emergency situation in the village of Kamenskoje.

(Romani Yag)

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