Macedonian Police Target Roma with Excessive Force
Budapest, Skopje, 13 May 2013: The ERRC is deeply concerned about media reports which indicate that a special police unit, along with the regular police force, used excessive and arbitrary force when they entered a Roma neighbourhood to arrest a man who had committed a crime while on leave from prison. Around 50 police officers used force against Roma on 5 May, indiscriminately targeting individuals, including women, in the course of the operation.
Roma from the Topana neighbourhood told the ERRC that officers forcibly entered several Romani houses and local shops without providing any explanation; harassing and pushing people, often in the presence of children. Roma reported that police officers kicked and punched them with fists and police batons. Around ten Romani individuals were beaten up, including three women.
Official reports state that Roma resisted arrest, throwing stones at police forces. However eyewitness reports clearly indicate the police response was indiscriminate and out of all proportion. Media in Macedonia released a video showing the police actions. The Ministry of the Interior made a statement saying that anyone who believes their rights were violated should file a complaint. This response is clearly inadequate.
This police action is in contrary to fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Macedonian Constitution and international human rights treaties, including the right to physical and moral integrity, right to liberty and security, right to privacy, and ultimately the right not to be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Such conduct is also incompatible with national codes.
The ERRC calls on the relevant authorities to: conduct an independent, thorough and effective investigation into the legality of the police and action in line with the obligations enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights; to ensure that the investigation fully explores any evidence of discriminatory action or bias motivation and to make public the scope, methods and findings of the investigation in this case.
For more information, contact:
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre