Czech Police Attack Roma in Casino
28 May 2004
According to the Czech electronic news source Romano Vodi of December 5, 2003, a number of police officers attacked a group of Roma in a casino in the northern Czech town of Dobruška on November 11, 2003. Romani Vodi reported that according to a spokesperson for the Rychnov police, the officers were attacked by the Romani patrons and acted within the limits of the law to detain a criminal suspect protected by a group of Roma. However, witnesses to the incident reported a different version of events. The officers reportedly attacked the Romani patrons without reason. Eyewitness Petr Rafael was quoted as having stated, "A visitor shouted at the police to leave them (the Romani patrons) alone, because they had done nothing wrong, but they started beating them up."
One witness filed a complaint against the police actions and, according to Romano Vodi, the Rychnov Police Department was conducting an investigation into the incident. Several Romani patrons were reportedly charged in accordance with Articles 155 (attack of a public official) and 202 (disturbing the peace) of the Czech Criminal Code. On March 10, 2004, the investigating officer, First Lieutenant Hyrka, informed the ERRC that no police officers were charged in connection with the incident.
Antipathy towards Roma in Czech Republic continues to infect most of society. In January 2004, the Czech weekly newspaper Respekt published a poll in which 79 percent of Czechs stated that they would not want Roma as neighbours. Additional information on the human rights situation of Roma in Czech Republic is available on the ERRC's Internet website at: http://www.errc.org/publications/indices/czechrepublic.shtml. (ERRC, Respekt, Romani Vodi)