Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of Roma by Ukrainian Police

10 May 2003

According to the Uzhorod-based Romani organisation Romani Yag, on December 17, 2002, following a killing of a non-Romani woman in the town of Mukachevo, Transcarpathian region of Ukraine, police physically abused Roma unlawfully held for questioning. Romani Yag stated that, on the same day, Mukachevo police raided the town's Romani neighbourhood and, at approximately 5:00 PM, several Roma were forced into police cars and brought to the city police station of Mukachevo. Many of the detained Roma were reportedly lightly dressed, as they had not been given the opportunity to take warm clothes with them. Following their arrival at the police station, Romani Yag claimed, some of the Roma were kept in the yard and some in the corridors of the police building. The temperature was around minus 10 degrees Celsius. The Roma placed in the yard were apparently forced to stay there in the freezing cold for three days, during which time individuals were brought inside intermittently for interrogation.After three days, the group was finally allowed inside the building corridors. Romani Yag also informed the ERRC that most of the Roma, who were interrogated in connection with the death of the woman, sustained various bodily injuries as a result of physical abuse during interrogation. According to victims' testimonies, police officers beat them with sticks and fists. According to Romani Yag, approximately fifty Roma were interrogated in the course of the first day alone. According to Romani Yag, interrogations lasted until December 26, 2002, when the Roma were released without charges.

Romani Yag stated that the perpetrator of the crime was subsequently identified and detained. However, the Mukachevo police never apologised to the Roma for the groundless and unlawful detentions, nor the pain and suffering the raid had caused to them, nor have any disciplinary or judicial measures been taken against officers who abused their powers. On December 28, 2002, Romani Yag sent a letter of concern in connection to the events of December 17-26, 2002, to the Prosecutor General Mr S. Piskun. On February 28, 2003, Romani Yag received a response from the office of the Chief Prosecutor of Mukachevo in which the prosecutor informed Romani Yag that allegations of police abuse in the case were found to be unsubstantiated. Therefore, the prosecutor's office rejected the appeal to initiate criminal proceedings against police officers of the Mukachevo police department. For further information on the human rights situation of Roma in Ukraine, visit the ERRC's Internet website at:

(Romani Yag)


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