ERRC Will Ensure Roma Tortured by Slovak Police Receive Justice
01 August 2019
Brussels 1 August 2019: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) will provide legal assistance to Roma from Milhost, Slovakia who were physically abused by police officers while under arrest on 23 July 2019. Two Romani young men, aged 19, were arrested and severely beaten by police officers after they were detained at a local pub. Three other women, including the mother and aunt of one of the men, were also physically assaulted in police custody after officers entered their home and attacked the family. A complaint has been filed by the victims with the police inspectorate.
The incident occurred after a police patrol was summoned to a pub at around 7:00 pm on 23rd July where the two Romani men were involved in a physical confrontation with the owner. The officers detained the two young Roma, put them in a police car, and beat them for the duration of the journey to the local police station in Čaňa.
“They took us into the car and starting hitting us all the way there” described one of the men. Upon arrival at the station, they were further assaulted by officers. “We stood for three hours. I lay on the ground because I could no longer stand up; I was sitting in the middle between two of them and they hit me everywhere. The police officers also spat in my mouth.”
The two men requested medical care for their injuries but were refused. They were later transferred for unknown reasons to Moldava nad Bodvou and then to Košice before returning to Čaňa where they were released on 24th July.
The mother and aunt of one of the detained Romani men, after learning that they had been arrested and would be kept overnight, went to the pub where the incident had occurred to find out what happened. A conflict arose between the relatives and the people present at the pub. When they arrived back home, several patrols were waiting outside the homes of the mens’ relatives. Police officers then entered and began physically attacking the families.
“The cops came looking for us in the courtyards, they found me and grabbed my hair and pulled me out onto the bridge, where they started beating me” said the sister-in-law of one of the Romani boys. During the raid a handgun was allegedly pushed against her forehead by one of the officers. Another officer physically assaulted and racially abused a Romani man who was an onlooker. A witness to the attacks contacted police and was told by the operator that an additional police patrol would be sent out, but no other patrol arrived at the crime scene to investigate.
Three female relatives of the two Romani men were detained and brought to the police station in Čaňa where they were locked in the men’s toilets and warehouse, instead of the questioning rooms which are normally covered by CCTV cameras. The women suffered further violence at the police station before being released at around 4:00 pm on 24th July.
“It is no secret that the police in Slovakia regularly brutalise and beat Roma communities. We have brought this to light publically on several occasions” said ERRC President, Ðorđe Jovanović. “But we are getting tired of hearing excuses and observing practices which mean that police officers get away with these crimes when the investigation finds ‘no wrong doing’. The ERRC is prepared to take this case, and others, to the European Court of Human Rights if the Slovak police inspectorate is once again unable to carry out an effective investigation which is not tainted by its own racist bias against Romani citizens.”
This press release is also available in Slovak.
For more information, or to arrange an interview contact:
Marek Balaz (in Slovak)
Human Rights Monitoring Coordinator
Jonathan Lee (in English)
Advocacy & Communications Manager
European Roma Rights Centre
+36 30 500 2118