MINELRES: ERT Court Watch: Ethnically Motivated Court Sentence Violates Article 14 EHCR
Fri Apr 2 13:38:21 2010
Original sender: Equal Rights Trust <email@example.com>
Bulgarian Courts Discriminate Against Roma
Thursday, 1 April 2010
On 25 March 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), in the
case of Paraskeva Todorova vs. Bulgaria (Application no. 37193/07),
ruled that the Bulgarian courts had discriminated against a Romani
woman, in deciding to impose a custodial rather than the suspended
sentence recommended by the prosecution. The ECtHR found that in so
doing, the Bulgarian courts had motivated their decision on the basis of
her ethnic origin.
In 2005, Ms Todorova was prosecuted for fraud. Based on several
extenuating circumstances, including her health condition, the
prosecution in her case recommended a suspended sentence to the
first-instance Plovdiv District Court. However, the Plovdiv District
Court refused to grant the suspended sentence opining that to do so
would encourage a feeling of impunity, especially among members of
minority groups, “for whom a suspended sentence is not a sentence”. This
position was upheld by both superior courts on appeal.
On the facts of this case, the ECtHR held that the applicant had been
subjected to a different treatment, which was clear from the outset in
view of the Plovdiv District Court’s reference to the applicant’s ethnic
origin. The ECtHR pointed out that the first-instance court’s reasoning
about a possible impression of impunity was made with respect to both
minority groups and the applicant, and this, together with the
applicant’s Romani ethnicity, presented the presumption that the Court
aimed to impose a sentence that would serve as an example to the Roma
community. Consequently, the ECtHR found that there had been a violation
of Article 14 (non-discrimination) taken in conjunction with Article 6
(1) (fair trial) of the Convention. In the judgment, the Strasbourg
Court highlighted the seriousness of the situation complained of by the
applicant, given that in the contemporary multicultural societies of
Europe, the eradication of racism has been a priority objective of all
To read the ERT case summary, click here:
To read the full case, in French only, click here:
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