Muslim Roma Win Discrimination Case Against Montenegro
06 December 2017
Strasbourg, Budapest 6 December 2017: A Romani man and his family who were harassed by neighbours for being both Roma and Muslim, have won their case before the European Court of Human Rights. The family had exhausted inadequate domestic courts which were not delivering justice. So instead they took their case against the authorities who were not properly investigating the ethnic and religious attacks against them.
The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) intervened in the case on the important issue of intersectional discrimination: the applicant was a Romani Muslim and his neighbours' threats and slurs focused on both identities. Interveners are separate parties to the case who make factual and legal submissions to the Court to help the Court make the right decision with the right reasons.
The family had been subjected to racial and religious slurs, death threats, graffiti painted on their door, attacks on their car, and gunfire aimed at their apartment before they turned to the law. The Court focused on two of the most threatening incidents. Carefully examining the conduct of the police, the Court found it wanting. In one of the incidents, bullets had been fired - those accused of firing them denied they did it, but admitted they heard gunfire and saw the shells. The Court criticised the police for not collecting the shells and seeing if those who allegedly fired them had a gun. Overall, the Court found that "the applicant was not provided with the required protection of his right to psychological integrity".
The Court agreed that the violation was compounded by the fact that the applicant was Roma as well as Muslim.
In its written submission to the Court as a third party, the ERRC pointed out the existence of endemic racism against Roma in Montenegrin society. The ERRC also pointed out the evidence of institutional racism within Montenegrin police, who usually treated serious hate crimes as misdemeanours and seldom won convictions.
The ERRC's President, Dorde Jovanovic, said "Roma are not a single, homogeneous category. We are women, men, children, Muslims, Christians, lesbians, gay men, straight people, some of us have disabilities. Antigypsyism interacts with misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, and other ideologies of hate in complicated ways. This case is just one example. I congratulate the brave man and his family who brought this case. I hope other intersectional forms of discrimination will reach the Court and that we will be able to help the Court deliver powerful judgments that show and condemn the failure of police and others to do their jobs and protect our human rights".
For more information, or to request an interview contact:
European Roma Rights Centre
+36 30 500 2118