MINELRES: ERRC: European Court of Human Rights Finds Violations in Bulgarian Police Brutality Case involving Romani Victims

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Fri Jan 15 19:12:22 2010

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

European Court of Human Rights Finds Violations in Bulgarian Police
Brutality Case involving Romani Victims 
Strasbourg, 8 January 2010: In a case brought by the European Roma
Rights Centre and Bulgarian attorney Alexander Kashumov on behalf of
Romani Baht Foundation, the European Court of Human Rights yesterday
found that Bulgarian police had engaged in inhuman and degrading
treatment of three Bulgarian nationals of Roma origin during their
arrest and detention in police custody. 

The case, Sashov v. Bulgaria, was filed in 2003 and complained of police
brutality during the arrest of the three men in 2001 and of the failure
of the State authorities to institute an effective criminal
investigation into their allegations of ill-treatment. During the course
of the arrest, police fired shots at the men, beat them severely and put
two of them in the trunk of a car in order to transport them to a police
station. They were also subjected to verbal abuse on account of their
Roma ethnicity. 

In its ruling, the Court found that the use of force by the police
against the applicants was extensive and disproportionate, and the
nature and intensity of the suffering amounted to inhuman and degrading
treatment. The Court noted that the Bulgarian authorities failed to
conduct an effective and thorough investigation in order to establish
the circumstances of the ill-treatment of the applicants. Consequently
the Court found that the Bulgarian State violated Article 3 in both the
substance and in procedure. Each applicant was awarded EUR 3,000 for
non-pecuniary damages and EUR 4,500 for costs and expenses. 

Robert Kushen, Managing Director of the ERRC, said “We welcome the
Court’s decision as a strong message that police brutality has no place
in today’s Europe. Unfortunately, Roma continue to suffer abuse at the
hands of police in many countries in Europe, and national justice
systems do not always deliver justice for Roma victims.” 

Mihail Georgiev, Chair of the Board of the Romani Baht Foundation, a
Roma human rights organisation that represented the applicants before
Bulgarian authorities in the process of exhausting the domestic
remedies, said: “We think that the Court’s decision is coming just at a
time when the police authorities in Bulgaria have stepped back from what
was achieved in the last few years regarding the treatment of Roma.
Unfortunately we recently witnessed again cases of police misconduct
towards Roma with no reaction from the Ministry of Interior, the media
or politicians. As a human rights organisation which has worked on Roma
rights in Bulgaria since 1995, we see it as a disturbing tendency and
hope that the present decision will have a positive impact for the
improvement of the situation.” 

The full text of the judgment is available in French here:

Further information on the case is available here:
http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=1914 . 

This is the 6th complaint against Bulgaria that the ERRC and its
partners have won on behalf of Romani applicants before the European
Court of Human Rights. More information about the ERRC is available at:

For further information, please contact: 

Robert Kushen, ERRC Managing Director, 

Sinan Gokcen, ERRC Media and Communications Officer, 

Alexander Kashumov, Access to Information Program, 


The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the human rights situation 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 

To support the ERRC, please visit this link:

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Tel: +36.1.413.2200

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