Slovakia criticised by AI for action against Romanies

Bratislava, 25. 5. 2005 (CTK)

Slovakia is criticised for brutal suppression of Romany riots in its eastern part last February in the 2004 annual report of Amnesty International (AI), published today. "In February protests by members of the Roma minority in Eastern Slovakia, which were reportedly sparked off by changes in the social welfare policy, escalated in some instances into rioting and looting," AI writes.

"In some cases police officers resorted to excessive use of force, verbal racist abuse and other deliberate acts of ill- treatment. Many of those arrested were not allowed to contact their family, a lawyer or anyone else, and were denied access to a doctor of their choice. Three women held in pre-trial detention reportedly had their hair cut off against their wishes," AI writes.

"According to the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) and the Center for Roma Rights in Slovakia (CRRS), around 250 police officers went to the town in the early hours purportedly to arrest people suspected of theft, destruction of property and assaulting police in disturbances that had taken place in Trebisov the previous evening," it adds.

The disturbances broke out on February 24, 2004. Local Romanies, dissatisfied with some welfare cuts, plundered local shops and there were riots with the police.

AI points to the case of "Radoslav Puky whose body was found on 7 March in the Ondava river close to the Romani settlement. He had last been seen fleeing police officers on the day of the police action in Trebisov. An autopsy report reportedly established that he had died as a result of violence, not drowning. The results of an investigation had not been made public by the end of the year."