Police Officers Beat Romani Youth in Serbia and Montenegro
28 May 2004
On the evening of December 21, 2003, several police officers physically abused Mr Svetislav Stojanović, a Romani youth, in the central Serbian town of Velika Plana, according to his December 25th testimony to the ERRC, working in partnership with the Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation Minority Rights Center (MRC). Mr Stojanović testified that he was at a local café on the evening in question where he had a few drinks with friends, when he noticed some confusion at a nearby disco. Mr Stojanović went to the disco to see what was happening and to find his cousin, when several police vehicles arrived. Armed officers exited the vehicles and entered the disco, causing the patrons to run out. According to his testimony, Mr Stojanović asked aloud, "Why are so many police officers here?", and was then hit hard on the head with what he believed to be the butt of a gun. An officer then reportedly handcuffed Mr Stojanović and placed him in one of the police vehicles. Mr Stojanović was then brought to the police station and handcuffed to a chair in the hallway. Mr Stojanović told the ERRC/MRC that he asked on numerous occasions why he had been brought to the station, when a policewoman approached him and began to beat him with a truncheon. Eventually, the policewoman went into a nearby room but then returned and punched him in the neck, Mr Stojanović reported. After some time, Mr Stojanović was placed in a police vehicle where he was left for several hours in freezing weather without heat. When he was brought back into the police station, another officer tied him to a door and punched him repeatedly. According to Mr Stojanović, only when the officers went off duty and new officers arrived was he released at around 1:00 PM the following day. Mr Stojanović stated that officers did not offer him any explanation for his detention and ill treatment, but stated that "people who insult police incur such treatment". Ill treatment of Roma by law enforcement officials continues with alarming frequency in Serbia and Montenegro. Information on the human rights situation of Roma in Serbia and Montenegro is available on the ERRC's Internet website at: http://www.errc.org/publications/indices/serbia_and_montenegro.shtml.