Stateless Roma Detained at Airport in the Romanian Capital

07 November 2002

On August 26, 2002, the ERRC, in partnership with the Bucharest-based non-governmental organisation Aven amentza, visited the Otopeni Airport in Bucharest where six stateless Roma, formerly Romanian citizens, had been detained for more than six months by Romanian authorities who were reportedly attempting to force them to enter the country against their will and reclaim their Romanian citizenship. Mr Marin Mogos, a 52-year-old Romani man, testified to the ERRC/Aven amentza that he, together with his wife, 49-year-old Anisoara Mogos, and three of their children – 19-year-old Gabriela Mogos, 18-year-old Gheorghe Mogos and 16-year-old Dorina Mogos – had been held in the Transit Zone at the Otopeni Airport since March 7 and 8, 2002. Marin and Anisoara Mogos's two other children, 24-year-old Emil and 26-year-old Simona, reportedly remain in Germany, having been allowed to stay because they are married to German citizens.

Mr Mogos stated to the ERRC/Aven amentza that the Mogos family left Romania in August 1990 for Germany. In Germany, on August 28, 1990, all seven members of the Mogos family entered the Bad Swalbach camp, where they remained for three weeks, handed over their passports and applied for asylum. Mr Mogos reported that on February 22, 1993, all seven family members acquired the legal status of stateless persons. On December 22, 1997, the Mogos family reportedly received "Duldung" status, the legal status of "tolerated persons" in Germany – a temporary stop on expulsion. In 1998, the Mogos family filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights in connection with the case. According to Mr Mogos, on January 9, 2002, their application for renewed "Duldung" status was rejected and they were issued an order to exit the country by January 31, 2002. According to Mr Mogos, his family remained in Germany until March 7, 2002.

Mr Ion Mihai, abusively expelled from
Germany and, as of November 13, 2002,
in detention at the Otopeni Airport in Bucharest.
Photo: ERRC

On March 7, 2002, at approximately 4:30 AM, fourteen armed German police officers came and forcibly took Mr Mogos, Gabriela and Gheorghe to the airport. Mr Mogos reported that he was not permitted to telephone his lawyer and the officers also threatened him with guns and handcuffed him. According to Mr Mogos, the other Roma expelled arrived at the Otopeni Airport in Bucharest at around 11:45 PM on March 7, 2002, where Police Major Cristian Fugaciu and four other officers met and detained them. Mr Mogos stated that he told Major Fugaciu that he had been brought to Romania against his will and he did not want to enter the country, to which Major Fugaciu reportedly replied that Mr Mogos should forget about Germany because he would not be sent back. Mr Mogos told the ERRC that an officer of Romania's Passport Division informed him that his family would not receive any food, medicine or legal assistance and that they would be held in the Transit Zone until they signed documents stating they would voluntarily enter Romania and accept Romanian citizenship.

According to Mr Mogos, at approximately 1:00 AM on March 8, 2002, Anisoara and Dorina joined the rest of the Mogos family in detention at the Otopeni Airport. According to Ms Mogos, at the airport in Germany, she was handcuffed and bodily searched by female officers while fully naked, and was also only allowed to use a toilet with the door open. On March 8, 2002, at approximately 8:30 AM, the Mogos family was transferred to a building in the Transit Zone at the Otopeni Airport.

On October 13, 2002, during an ERRC visit, Mr Mogos reported that in March 2002, the Mogos family added a claim to their application with the European Court of Human Rights that they had been illegally deported from Germany before the conclusion of final appeal hearings concerning their request for asylum. According to Mr Mogos, a hearing is scheduled for November 18, 2002, at the Wiesbaden Administrative Court in German regarding his family's asylum applications. Mr Mogos told the ERRC that he feared that his family would not be able to take part in the proceedings because they were unable to go to Germany. Mr Mogos reported that, since March 8, 2002, the Mogos family had been held in a building with iron bars on the windows and they are under the constant supervision of police officers. Mr Mogos also informed the ERRC/Aven amentza that at around 4:30 PM on April 1, 2002, around fifteen or twenty police officers, several of whom he names, came to the building and entered the room of Mr Ion Mihai, a 39-year-old stateless Romani man also detained at Otopeni Airport since being forcibly returned to Romania from Germany on February 8, 2002, and began beating him. Mr Mogos told the ERRC/Aven amentza that, upon hearing Mr Mihai scream for help, he entered Mr Mihai's room and witnessed two officers brutally beating Mr Mihai and heard a third officer state "cover his mouth so he won't scream anymore." One officer then reportedly punched Mr Mogos in the stomach, after which, the officers began repeatedly punching and kicking him on his head and stomach. Mr Mogos can identify by name all three officers and their names are currently on file at the ERRC. At this time, according to Mr Mogos, his son Gheorghe Mogos entered the room and shouted at the officers that they were killing his father. Four or five of the officers reportedly began to yell racist insults at Gheorghe Mogos and savagely beat him on his head and legs with fists, until one of the officers allegedly punched him so hard that he fell into a glass door, causing the glass to break. Mr Mogos informed the ERRC/Aven amentza that another officer also repeatedly attempted to strangle Gabriela Mogos after she entered the room, while a third officer shouted profanities at her and insulted her Romani ethnicity. According to Mr Mogos, two or three other officers also punched her in the head and legs during the assault.

On September 17, 2002, Mr Ion Mihai testified to the ERRC/Aven amentza that he became legally stateless in 1994. According to Mr Mihai, on February 8, 2002, he went to a police station in Frankfurt with two family members to extend his "Duldung" status while he was awaiting a response to his asylum request made in 1987 when he first entered Germany. Mr Mihai reported that he was arrested and handcuffed by German police officers who had their guns out, but did not point them at him. When Mr Mihai asked to see a warrant for his arrest, he was reportedly not shown any papers and simply was told that he was being deported to Romania. German police officers allegedly asked Mr Mihai to empty his pockets and took the 200 euros he was carrying. Mr Mihai reported that the officers told him to "shut up" when he asked for his money back, then took him by force to the airport and put him on a plane bound for Romania. Mr Mihai reported that, upon arrival at the Otopeni Airport, two officers, one of whom he named, attempted to coerce him into signing papers indicating that he agreed to voluntarily enter Romania. Mr Mihai claimed to have refused, despite being threatened with violence by one of the officials. Mr Mihai reported that he was then placed in a building in the Transit Zone at the Otopeni Airport. On October 13, 2002, Mr Mihai told the ERRC that he had asylum proceedings pending in Germany and since his arrival in the Transit Zone at the Otopeni Airport, he had filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights regarding his deportation from Germany.

According to Mr Mihai, doctors visited him until April 1, 2002, issuing him prescriptions for medicine that he could not leave the building to purchase, but which the doctors refused to provide him. Mr Mihai reported that on April 1, 2002, at approximately 4:30 PM, approximately twenty officers entered the building. Three or four police officers reportedly grabbed his arms and twisted them behind his back and attempted to take him from his room. According to Mr Mihai, he told the officers to leave him alone and screamed for help. Mr Mihai informed the ERRC/Aven amentza that between ten and twelve officers, including two officers he can identify by name, began to strike him with their fists and kick him in his face and stomach. According to Mr Mihai, three of his teeth were broken during the attack. He was subsequently forced into a waiting ambulance and tied down with black belts so hard that he could hardly breath. Mr Mihai reported that he was held in the Military Urgency Hospital for two days, then transported to the another detention centre in the Colentina neighbourhood in Bucharest where he remained for another two days before being brought back to the Transit Zone at the Otopeni Airport.

On April 8, 2002, the non-governmental organisation Association for Victims of the 1990-1991 Miner's Revolution in Romania (Asociatia Victimelor Mineriadilor 1990-1991 din Romania) filed complaints with the Bucharest Military Prosecutor's Officer on behalf of Mr Mogos and Mr Mihai against four officers named by Mr Mogos and Mr Mihai, in connection with the attack of April 1, 2002. In a letter dated August 13, 2002, the Military Prosecutor's Office of the Supreme Court of Justice informed Mr Mogos and Mr Mihai that, in accordance with an August 6, 2002 resolution, their claim was found to be groundless due to a lack of evidence, and that no criminal investigation would be undertaken into the officers' actions.

On September 17, 2002, Mr Mihai and Mr Mogos testified to the ERRC/Aven amentza that Romanian authorities had not provided them with any food, medicine or water since their arrival at Otopeni Airport, nor had they been able to change their clothing since their arrival. They reportedly had only water, food and medicine supplied by friends and relatives. On September 24, 2002, the ERRC/Aven amentza visited the Mogos family and Mr Mihai at the Otopeni airport for the third time, and were only allowed to speak with them at the entrance to the building near the toilets, although there had not been any such restrictions during the first two visits. The Mogos family and Mr Mihai filed separate civil complaints with the Romanian Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, requesting that the illegality of their detention on Romanian territory by Romanian authorities be established. A civil trial was held on September 26, 2002 in both cases, with Mr Mihai appearing before court again on October 10, 2002, and a second hearing for the Mogos family scheduled for October 17, 2002. As of November 13, 2002, their complaints were still pending before the court.

On October 3, 2002, the ERRC/Aven amentza submitted an official request to the General Inspectorate of Border Police for informationon the Mogos Family and Mr Mihai. In a response received on November 3, 2002, the General Inspectorate stated that they regard the Mogos family members and Mr Mihai as foreigners who have the opportunity to enter Romania but who refuse to do so. Therefore, according to the response, they are free to go to any state, including Germany, if that state accepts them. The Mogos family and Mr Mihai "are not being deprived of their liberty" according to the response.

During the ERRC's visit on October 13, 2002, Mr Mogos showed the ERRC the washroom facilities in the Transit Zone. The Mogos family and Mr Mihai share one toilet and do not have a shower. All six persons use two small sinks to clean themselves, their clothes and any food they receive from outside sources. The Mogos family and Mr Mihai reported that they were only permitted to go outside for fresh air and exercise for a few minutes, two or three times per week. Ms Anisoara Mogos also informed the ERRC that there were rats in the building and that they had previously chased rats from their room. Mr Mihai informed the ERRC that he had been on hunger strike since September 30, 2002, in protest against his forcible detention at the Transit zone at the Otopeni Airport. Mr Mihai and Mr Mogos both testified to the ERRC that throughout the duration of their stay in the Transit Zone, they had constantly been pressured by officials to reclaim their Romanian citizenship and voluntarily enter Romania. Also according to Mr Mogos, his children Simona and Emil informed him that German authorities had been pressuring them to leave Germany during this time.

(Aven amentza, ERRC)

The Mogos family V Dorina, Gheorghe, Marin,
Gabriela and Anisoara V abusively expelled
from Germany and, as of November 13, 2002,
in detention at the Otopeni Airp ort in
Photo: ERRC



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