Romani policemen in Levan, Albania, stripped of badges

15 May 1998

The four Romani men appointed as police officers following the outbreak of serious violence in the Levan community during the difficulties in Albania early in 1997 have evidently lost their jobs. The Albanian press reported in September 1997 that in the interest of inter-communal peace, the Interior Ministry waived conditions in order to make four Romani men policemen in the Fier police department, the department competent for the Levan community (see Roma Rights, Autumn 1997). Roma and non-Roma died in the Levan community during a battle, the origins of which remain obscure, in mid-March 1997. There is a tradition of vendetta in Albania, and the potential for acts of revenge is significant in the country.

Roma in the Levan community told the ERRC in April 1998 that the four Romani policemen had been stripped of their titles after the Fier police chief announced that the Roma no longer had reason to fear violence by non-Roma and that his department was capable of protecting them. He reportedly stated that they would deputise the Roma again if the community came under further attack by non-Roma. Roma in Levan told the ERRC that they continue to fear revenge from family members of non-Roma who died during the conflict, and that they therefore do not leave the settlement. The Levan community reported that they live primarily off charity provided by other Romani communities. Additionally, other Romani communities reportedly do not accept Roma from the Levan community for fear of inheriting vendetta.

(ERRC)

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