MINELRES: Racial Profiling of Roma by Russian Law Enforcement Officials

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun Oct 22 17:21:22 2006


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


ERRC Action Against Abusive Police Measures in Russia


Budapest, 12 October 2006.      
This week, the ERRC sent a letter of concern to the Chief of the Samara
Regional Department of the Ministry of 
Interior expressing concern about recent anti-Romani police raids in
Romani communities in the region of Samara within the auspices of a
police operation entitled “Tabor 2006” (“tabors” are Romani
settlements). “Tabor 2006” is the most recent in a series of anti-Romani
actions by Russian police entitled taking place since 2002. In the
letter, the ERRC urged the undertaking of immediate measures to end
abusive police 
operations targeting Roma in the region of Samara. The letter was copied
to the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation. The full text of
the letter follows:

Honourable Mr Reimer,

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) is an international public
interest law organisation which monitors the situation of Roma in Europe
and provides legal defense in cases of human rights abuse. The ERRC has
submitted complaints to the European Court of Human Rights and has
secured redress for victims in a number of cases of police abuse of Roma
since the organisation was founded in 1996. The ERRC has also undertaken
research in more than half of the countries of Europe and has published
a number of reports and public statements concerning the situation of
Roma in a number of European countries. Since 2000, the ERRC has been
monitoring the situation of Roma rights in the Russian Federation
through site visits, as well as with the assistance of a number of local
monitors, based with partner organisations.

The ERRC is writing to express concern about recent police raids in the
region of Samara, undertaken within the framework of an police operation
called "Tabor 2006", a name which points directly to Romani ethnicity
(insofar as "tabors" are Romani settlements) and is therefore apparently
a prima facie racist action. According to reports in leading Internet
information sources including, amongst several others, regnum.ru,
regions.ru and United Volga, at the end of September 2006, Samara
regional law enforcement authorities launched a new operation, the main
objective of which is “the exposure and suppression of crimes related to
the legalisation of financial resources and other property obtained as a
result of committing of drug-related crimes by the criminal ethnic
groups.”(1) Other online information sources have drawn explicit links
between the activities of Samara regional law enforcement authorities
within similar operations and persons belonging to the Romani ethnic
minority:

“[…] within the framework of operation ‘Tabor-2005’, carried out last
year in the course of work amongst persons from Romani and other ethnic
groups, the illegal activity of organised criminal groups have been
precluded. According to information provided by the Press Service of the
Russian Federal Drug Control Service in the Region of Samara, these
groups have organised channel for the contraband delivery of drugs to
the territory of Russia".(2)

Explicit targeting of Roma by law enforcement officials violates a
number of provisions of international law to which Russia is a party,
including Article 2 of the International Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which states: "States
Parties condemn racial discrimination and 
undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy
of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting
understanding among all races, and, to this end: (a) Each State Party
undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination
against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to ensure that
all public authorities and public institutions, national and local,
shall act in conformity with this obligation; [...]", as well as Article
5 of the ICERD which states: "In compliance with the fundamental
obligations laid down in article 2 of this Convention, States Parties
undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its
forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to
race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law…”

The United Nations Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination at
its 62nd Session on March 3-21, 2003 urged the Government of the Russian
Federation to take immediate measures such that law enforcement
officials respect and defend the human rights of all individuals
irrespective of their race, colour, or national or ethnical origin.

The ERRC is aware that in previous years, Russian authorities have
undertaken similar actions, also entitled "Operation Tabor". The
explicit use of a term widely associated with Roma indicates that not
only were Russian authorities undertaking racial profiling and official
actions resulting in human rights abuses, but also apparently there has
been no intention whatsoever to mask the explicitly anti-Romani
character of these actions. In the wake of 2002 and 2004 "Operation
Tabor", the ERRC and partner organisations have repeatedly raised
concerns related to "Operation Tabor". Following the 2002 operation,
representatives of the Romani NGOs met with Mr. V.A. Vasiliev,
then-Deputy Minister of Interior and Mr. E.N. Sidorenko, Deputy Minister
of 
Justice, who promised that such operations would not be repeated in the
future.

Honourable Mr Reimer, the ERRC urges you to take immediate measures in
order to end the abusive police operations targeting Roma in the region
of Samara. We kindly request to be informed of any actions taken by your
office in this regard.

Sincerely,
Dimitrina Petrova,
Executive Director

Persons wishing to express similar concerns should contact:

Mr Reimer
Chief of Department of the Ministry of Interior of Samara Region
Address: Russia, Samara, Sokolova str 34
Fax: +7 8463 345962

Mr Yuri Chaika
General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation
Address: Russia, Moscow, B. Dmitrovka 15a
Fax: +7 495 692 8848

ERRC work on issues relating to Roma in the 
Russian criminal justice system is supported by 
the Netherlands Foreign Ministry.

Endnotes:

(1) See www.regions.ru from 27.09.2006.
(2) See www.tltnews.ru  from 27.09.2006; “Drug 
police takes success for granted”, Samarskaya Gazeta, 03.10.2006.

_____________________________________________

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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