Abuse of Roma by officials in Slovakia

03 April 1999

Independent monitors recently reported police abuse in Slovakia. At approximately 1:00 am on January 14, 1999, two police officers in civilian clothing visited a block of flats inhabited by Roma in the eastern Slovak city of Košice. According to witnesses, the two men were drunk. The officers reportedly harassed Romani families in fourteen flats of this apartment complex. They repeatedly beat on the doors of flats and shouted racial slurs including "dirty Gypsies" at the Roma inside, demanding that they open their doors. The officers pointed revolvers at the heads of a number of the Roma who complied with this demand, and ordered them to produce their personal identification cards. The officers did not show any form of written authorisation. They reportedly told some members of the terrorised group that the action was an anti-drug raid, while telling others that they were looking for a man who sold pornography. The police officers also asked some of the Roma for money. Officers allegedly accosted the three sisters of one family, aged thirteen, fourteen and fifteen respectively, and suggested that the sisters were used to having incestuous relations. According to the testimony of 14-year-old Petra Bergová, officers struck 13-year-old Adriana Bergová and 15-year-old Soňa Bergová. They ordered the three girls to strip to the waist. Adriana and Soňa complied with this order and took off their shirts; Petra Bergová refused, so the officers tore the shirt from her back. One woman called the police. At approximately 1:45 am, around forty minutes after the call, officers from the local police station, Košice North, arrived; these reportedly only asked the two intruders the purpose of their visit. Before leaving, one of the two raiding officers shouted several threats at the Romani families and then left with the Košice police. On February 17, police investigators told the ERRC that they had interviewed fifteen witnesses in connection with the incident and that they had identified the officers concerned. In addition to the two officers identified by eyewitnesses, according to police a third officer waited in a car outside the building.

On March 9, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported that Ján Slota, leader of the Slovak National Party and mayor of the north-central Slovak town of Žilina had told a rally in central Slovakia that Slovakia would never tolerate a Romani minority because "they are Gypsies who steal, rob, and pilfer".

(ERRC, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Romany Reform Youth Movement)


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