MINELRES: ERRC: Arson attack resulting in death of a child in Russia

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Nov 18 17:01:50 2005


Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>


The ERRC sent a letter of concern on November 17, 2005 to Mr. Vlamidir 
Tokarev, Procecutor of the Novosibirsk Oblast, copied to the 
Prosecutor-General of the Russian Federation and to the Human Rights 
Ombudsman in the Russian Federation, on the occasion of arson attacks on 
Romani houses in the town of Iskitim. The text of the letter is the
following:


Honourable Prosecutor Tokarev,

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), an international human rights 
organisation, has been provided with information that in Iskitim, 
Novosibirsk oblast, on November 10, 2005 two Romani houses were burned.
One Romani woman sustained severe injures and her child died three days
later due to the arson attack.

This grave incident is the culmination of a wave of violence against
Roma that has apparently remained without efficient law enforcement
response to date. In particular, on February 14, 2005, approximately
twenty individuals attacked and burned a number of Romani houses in that
town. According to reports, the assailants managed to destroy entirely
around ten dwellings in the course of the attack. After the incident,
the Romani inhabitants were forced to leave their houses. Similar acts
of violence had reportedly also taken place in January 2005 and in April
2005.

On 21 February 2005 the ERRC sent you a letter of concern about arson 
attacks on Romani houses in Iskitim with a copy to the
Prosecutor-General of the Russian Federation.  On 29 March 2005, we
received a response from Mr Afanasiev, deputy prosecutor of Novosibirsk
oblast, who promised to act on our concerns.

We have been informed by local human rights activists that a number of 
criminal investigations on violent incidents have been opened and seven 
perpetrators have been detained. However, it can be assumed that law 
enforcement bodies and the local municipality did little or nothing to 
prevent further arson attacks on Romani houses and racial violence
against Romani people. While the authorities have taken some steps, we
believe they have been inadequate as the attacks continued and,
moreover, resulted in a death of a child.

Honorable Prosecutor Tokarev, regarding the legal obligations of
competent authority in similar cases, we draw your attention to the
recent case of Moldovan and others v. Romania, in which the European
Court of Human Rights found Romania in violation of several provisions
of the European Convention of Human Rights, in connection with a similar
case. For example, the Court noted that the "obligation of the High
Contracting Parties under Article 1 of the Convention to secure to
everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in
the Convention, taken together with Article 3, requires States to take
measures designed to ensure that individuals within their jurisdiction
are not subjected to ill-treatment, including ill-treatment administered
by private individuals. Also the Court established that "the attacks
were directed against the applicants because of their Roma origin.". In
its ruling the European Court of Human Rights refered to Article 2
(right to life), Article 3 (right not to be treated inhumanly), Article
8 (right to privacy), and Article 14 (non-discrimination).

In accordance with the decision of the Court, the Government of Romania
was obliged to compensatory damages to 7 Romani victims in the amount of
238,000 Euro.

Violent acts by non-state actors against members of ethnic minorities
also engage the provisions of a number of other international human
rights law treaties by which the Russian Federation is bound, as well as
provisions of the Constitution and relevant laws of the Russian
Federation.

Honourable Prosecutor Tokarev,

The ERRC calls on your office to ensure that all perpetrators involved
in the recent violent arson attacks on the homes of Roma in Iskitim are
swiftly brought to justice, and that the victims be protected from
further abuse. We urge you to use the power under Article 27 of the Law
on Prosecutor's Office, as well as any other powers available to your
office, to ensure protection for those Romani people who live in
Iskitim.


Sincerely,

Dimitrina Petrova
Executive Director

_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law 
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary

Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201

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