MINELRES: ERRC: Romani Victims of Police Abuse in Romania Bring Lawsuit at Strasbourg court

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Tue Feb 21 18:38:42 2006


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


ERRC files an application at Strasbourg court concerning the excessive
use of force against a Romani family by Romanian police

On 24 January 2006, the European Roma Rights Centre ('the ERRC') filed
an application with the European Court of Human Rights against Romania,
concerning a case of excessive and unjustified use of force by the
police against a Romani family, as well as the subsequent failure of the
authorities to conduct an effective investigation into the incidents.

The case involves the Pandele family, a Romani family of four - the two
spouses and their two sons - living in Targu Frumos, a small town
situated in northeastern Romania. The Pandeles used to own a fruits and
vegetables stand in the food market of Targu Frumos, which was built on
a space leased from the municipality. Shortly before the police
intervention at issue took place, the municipality agreed to extend the
lease contract for twenty-five years. For obscure reasons, the
municipality decided however to cancel the lease contract shortly after
having agreed to extend it. Legal procedures concerning the abusive
cancellation of the lease are still pending domestically in Romania.

On 19 August 2003, four days after the lease contract had been
terminated, the municipality decided to evict the Pandele family from
the food market. To this end, some workers hired by the municipality
were contracted to tear up the foundation of the applicants' kiosk. The
Pandeles, together with a number of their relatives and friends, staged
a protest against the decision of the municipality. Among the
protesters, there were a number of other Romani tenants whose stalls
were also facing forcible expulsion from the food market. Extensive
evidence shows that the protest was peaceful, despite official
allegations to the contrary.

Responding to calls made by employees of the municipality, a number of
agents of the Police Detachment for Rapid Intervention ("the DPIR")
arrived at the scene and started beating the applicants. The DPIR is the
police department in charge of special interventions, dealing in
particular with organized crime. At the time when the incidents took
place, the DPIR officers concerned were wearing black uniforms and head
masks, and were equipped with shotguns and "Kalashnikov" assault rifles.
The agents of a private security company hired by the town council, who
had already taken up positions in the market, joined the police in
beating the applicants. All of the applicants were brutally beaten with
rubber truncheons, baseball bats, fists and boots and were threatened
with firearms. Two of the applicants were then taken to the Targu Frumos
police station where they were again physically abused and threatened.
They were also fined for "disturbing the public order" and eventually
released.

On 15 September 2003, Ms. Roxana Prisacariu, the applicants' legal
representative, filed a complaint with the Prosecution Service of the
Iasi Court of Appeal asking for an investigation into the case and for
the punishment of those responsible for the beating. The prosecutor
charged with the investigation summarily dismissed the complaint and
gave a non-indictment decision, stating that the use of force by the
police officers was lawful. That decision was upheld through a series of
appeals and became final in May 2005.

On behalf of the four Romani applicants, the ERRC has taken this case to
the European Court of Human Rights, alleging violations of Article 3
(prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment), Article 6
(right to a fair trial), Article 10 (freedom of expression), Article 13
(right to an effective remedy) and Article 14 (prohibition of
discrimination).

The case at hand is a particularly egregious instance of a widespread
problem in Romania - that of disproportionate and unjustified use of
force by police, frequently in cases in which the victims are Romani. In
related proceedings, the abusive cancellation by the Targu Frumos town
council of the Pandeles' lease contract has recently been held to be
discriminatory in a decision by the National Council for Combating
Discrimination. In addition, since the incidents took place, the
applicants have been subjected to continuous harassment by local
officials. Thus, for example, the Targu Frumos town council has
repeatedly refused to grant the applicants social allowances to which
they are entitled by law. Moreover, in September 2004, one of the two
sons of the family was beaten and his car was destroyed by a group of
unknown individuals without any apparent reason. The investigation into
these events was inconclusive, and the perpetrators are yet to be
identified. More recently, in the summer of 2005, the applicants'
neighborhood was flooded and sustained considerable damage. Although the
municipality assisted the Romanian families in rebuilding their
households, it refused to grant the applicants any form of assistance.

Additional information on the situation of the Roma in Romania is
available at http://errc.org. For more information regarding this case,
please contact  Consantin Cojocariu, Staff Attorney, European Roma
Rights Centre (e-mail: constantin@errc.org,).
_____________________________________________

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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