Police Abuse in Serbia and Montenegro
10 July 2002
Police violence against Roma in Serbia continues according to the field findings of the Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation Minority Rights Center (MRC), an ERRC local partner in monitoring Roma rights in Serbia. On April 24, 2002, Mr Nebojša Majlić, a 46-year-old Romani man from Leskovac, in southern Serbia, told MRC that on March 5, 2002, he had been abused by local police officers. Mr Majlić told MRC that he is chronically ill, and had spent a month in the hospital in 2000. On the day in question, Mr Majlić was reportedly lying in his bed when his son entered the room and told him that some police officers were asking for his driver's licence. According to Mr Majlić, when he came out of the building he lives in, two traffic police officers immediately started verbally attacking him and reportedly accused him of having given his car keys to his underage son, who had been caught driving his car. Mr Majlić informed the police that he was very ill and that he was not aware that his son had taken his car keys. The officers reportedly continued shouting at Mr Majlić, and he asked them to fine him on the spot, so that he could leave and return to his bed, as he was not feeling well. At this point, Mr Majlić reported that one of the officers cursed at him, using a racist remark, handcuffed him and struck him twice on his head, reportedly causing Mr Majlić to faint. According to Mr Majlić, he awoke in the back seat of the police car with his neighbours gathered around the vehicle. One of the neighbours was a medical doctor who had treated Mr Majlić before. The doctor informed the police about Mr Majlić's health condition and suggested that they remove the handcuffs and allow him to check Mr Majlić. Following an argument with the doctor, the police reportedly called for reinforcements. According to Mr Majlić, several police officers arrived shortly afterwards and insisted that Mr Majlić be released. Eventually the officers released Mr Majlić. On March 6, 2002, Mr Majlić reportedly received a note that criminal charges had been filed against him for the breach of public law and order and confronting police officers as they were performing their duty. Thelocal non-governmental organisation Committee for Human Rights Leskovac, has reportedly filed an appeal against the charges. On July 10, 2002, MRC reported that on May 8, 2002, Mr Majlić had filed a criminal complaint against officers J.D. and S.D. under Article 66 of the Republic of Serbia Criminal Code, for committing the act of civil injury – abuse, insult or any other treatment that insults the dignity of a person. No further information was available at the time of publication regarding the appeal filed against the charges brought against Mr Majlić.
(Committee for Human Rights Leskovac, ERRC, Minority Rights Center)