Law Suit Filed at the European Court of Human Rights in Croatian Racist Violence Case
12 November 2002
On November 12, 2002, the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), along with Croatian lawyer Lovorka Kusan, filed an application against Croatia with the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of a father and son who were victims of violent skinhead attacks.
Although it has been two years since the initial attack, Croatian police have failed to take into account relevant information submitted by the victims, by their lawyer, and by other Romani victims of similar violence and have failed to conduct an adequate investigation into the crimes.
The application alleges that on April 29, 1999, Mr Semso Secic was savagely beaten by a group of Neo-nazi skinheads, sustaining multiple rib fractures and requiring hospitalization for a week. The attack also caused serious psychological harm, resulting in a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder chracterized by insomnia, nightmares, panic attacks, and a general emotional breakdown. Mr Secic filed a criminal complaint with the Zagreb Municipal Public Prosecutor's Office. Despite repeated requests from Mr Secic and his lawyer, and despite evidence that these same individuals were involved in other attacks against Roma and had been apprehended by police, the prosecutor's office did not take any steps to bring the perpetrators to justice.
On January 24, 2001, applicant Sevko Secic, Mr Secic's son, was pursued by five skinheads in front of a caf\351 close to Kvaternikov Square in Zagreb but managed to escape. Although he clearly recognized his attackers and provided detailed information about them to the police, no further action was taken and no arrests made. "Croatia has a clear obligation under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms to protect people from these kinds of attacks," said ERRC Executive Director Dimitrina Petrova. "This means not just having laws against racist violence on the books, but meaningful investigations and prosecutions. If the police turn a blind eye, skinheads will continue to act with impunity and carry out their campaigns of hate and violence"
The complaint seeks a finding that Croatia has violated Article 1 (the state's obligation to secure the protections of the Convention), Article 3 (prohibition of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment), Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination), along with compensatory damages for the victims.
Detailed information on the situation of Roma in Croatia can be found at: http://errc.org.