Romani Journalist Charged for Accusing Slovak Officer of Racism

10 July 2002

According to the Banská Bystrica-based Center for Environmental Public Advocacy (CEPA), on February 8, 2002, Ms Denise Havrlová, a Romani journalist, was asked to show her "hygienic passport" by Police Officer P.S. at the police station in the eastern Slovak town of Jarovnice after offering her hand in thanks to the officer for his assistance with a case for an article she was writing. According to CEPA, Ms Havrlová was insulted by the statement of Officer P.S. and reportedly informed him that his behaviour was racist. On February 11, 2002, Ms Havrlová filed a complaint against Officer P.S. with the Police Inspector in Košice, which on March 5, 2002, was rejected because the Police Inspectorate, reportedly, has no competency to review cases of moral and ethical violations of police officers. According to CEPA, on the advice of the Head of the Control and Inspection Service Section of the Ministry of the Interior to Ms Havrlová, on April 8, 2002,CEPA filed another complaint against Officer P.S. According to CEPA, by way of response, on April 16, 2002, the PrešovCounty Investigator brought criminal charges against Ms Havrlová for offending a public official. The charges were brought for having called the officer a racist and for allegedly providing incorrect information to journalists and TV reporters. On April 23, 2002,criminal proceedings against Ms Havrlová were reportedly dropped by the Office of the District Prosecutor in Prešov, following an appeal by CEPA. On May 6, 2002, according to CEPA, the Central Police Inspection in Bratislava found Ms Havrlová's complaint against OfficerP.S. to be "partially justified": his behaviour was not found to be racist, but was not in accord with his legal duties of a police officer. In late May 2002, CEPA reported that Ms Havrlová's case had been sent to the Jarovnice Police Chief, the relevant body to hear disciplinary proceedings against Officer P.S., and the Central Police Inspection had apologised to Ms Havrlová.

In other news, on February 26, 2002, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported that on February 23, 2002, between twenty and thirty Roma and non-Roma were attacked by a group of twenty skinheads on a bus in the town of Košice in eastern Slovakia. During the attack, the attackers shouted "black bastards" at the Roma, who were on their way home from a bar often visited by Romani youths.



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