Roma Sue National Police in Ukraine After Far-Right Attacks

Lviv, Budapest 26 June 2018: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the National Roma Centre will take the Ukrainian National Police to court on behalf of Roma who were attacked by gangs of masked men in Lviv on 23 June and 10 May.

The two organisations are preparing cases before courts in Lviv and Kiev to challenge the failure of the National Police to fulfil their human rights obligations to protect Roma from racist violence. The cases will allege failings under the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as other human rights treaties and national laws. 

The most recent attack on the night of Saturday 23 June resulted in the death of a 24-year-old Romani man by stabbing, and the injury of many others, including a 10-year-old boy. It was the latest pogrom in a spate of far-right violence against Ukrainian Roma in recent months. There have been at least five attacks on Roma in Kiev, Ternopil, and Lviv since April by far-right militias, and the National Police have been conspicuous in their lack of action to combat these acts of ethnic violence.

The ERRC has noted growing evidence of collusion between the National Police and far-right militias who are carrying out these pogroms. Additionally, local authorities were found to have been collaborating with far-right persons and groups, such as the agreement between Holosiyiv District Administration and the far-right group C14 who attacked Roma at Lysa Hora in Kiev.

The National Police are not only failing to protect Roma from ethnically targeted attacks, in many cases, they are tacitly approving of them. Police were recorded on video standing by while far-right militias destroyed a Romani camp in Kiev. In every one of the recent pogroms against Roma, the police have been ineffective in investigating and prosecuting those responsible.

After the attack on May 22 in Ternopil, a Romani women told an ERRC activist “I don’t trust the police. The next day I saw the police officer drinking coffee with one of the guys who attacked our camp. One of the guys who attacked us threatened to find us even underground if we dare to complain”.

The ERRC have received reports of police visiting Roma in Kiev and threatening further violence from far-right groups if they do not leave the city. In Lviv we are working with the National Roma Centre to help ensure the safety of Roma in the region.

“The shocking issue here is the lack of action on the side of the National Police. All of Europe should turn to Ukraine, see what is going on here, and demand justice. To ignore these attacks is to be complicit, and the Public Prosecutor Kviatkivskij Yurij Viktorovich has to take action and prosecute them explicitly as hate crimes” said the President of the ERRC, Đorđe Jovanović. 

The National Police have shown themselves to be unable or unwilling to provide safety and security for Ukrainian citizens of Romani ethnicity. The only option these Roma have is to challenge the police in the court. This is a matter of ensuring the rule of law in Ukraine. The Roma who have suffered at the hands of the attackers, and from the negligence of those tasked with protecting them will get justice, and we will help them do that.

For more information, or to arrange an interview contact:

Jonathan Lee
Communications Coordinator
European Roma Rights Centre
jonathan.lee@errc.org
+36 30 500 2118

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