Macedonian Roma Police Abuse Case Hearing at the European Court of Human Rights

20 January 2006

ERRC and Partners Argue at First Macedonian Roma Torture Case Heard at Strasbourg Court

Budapest, Strasbourg, Skopje, 20 January 2006. Yesterday, the ERRC participated in oral argument at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in the first case against Macedonia involving Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Article 3 prohibits torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

On 16 April 1998, Mr. Pejrusan Jasar, a Macedonian national of Romani ethnic origin from Stip, was in a local bar where gambling took place. One of the losing gamblers complained that the dice was fixed, drew a firearm, and fired several gunshots. Several police officers were called to the bar. Mr. Jasar maintains that police officers grabbed him by his hair and forcibly placed him in a police van. He was then taken to a local police station. During his detention in police custody, he was kicked in the head, punched and beaten with a truncheon by a police officer. The medical report taken right after Mr. Jasar was released the next morning stated that he had sustained numerous injuries to his head, hand and back.

In May 1998, Mr. Jasar, represented by local attorney Mr. Jordan Madzunarov, in cooperation with the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), filed a criminal complaint with the public prosecutor against an unidentified police officer. More than seven and a half years later, no steps were taken to investigate the complaint. Mr. Jasar also brought civil proceedings for damages against the State. These were dismissed in October 1999.

Having exhausted available domestic remedies, the ERRC filed a claim on behalf of Mr. Jasar against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 1 February 2001. The fact that the Macedonian government failed to explain in a satisfactory way the injuries of Mr. Jasar, and that his criminal complaint was not followed by a thorough investigation, constitute violations of Article 3 of the Convention, according to his attorneys. The State's failure to investigate his complaint for more than 7.5 years is a breach of his fundamental right to an effective remedy, as guaranteed by Article 13 of the Convention. The case also highlights the deficiencies of the Macedonian legal framework, which by not providing effective remedy against the inactivity of the public prosecutor, prevents the access to the investigatory procedure.

This case is one of the many similar incidents documented by ERRC and local human rights organizations indicating the impunity of the police in Macedonia, particularly where Roma are at issue.

The Civil Society Research Center based in Skopje and the Brussels-based law firm of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP provided additional legal analysis supporting the allegations of Mr. Jasar.

For further information on the case, please contact
Dianne Post., ERRC's Legal Director (; +36-1-413-2226) and/or Anita Danka, Staff Attorney (; +36-1-413-2221).

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