ERRC Taking Interior Ministry to Court over Discrimination against Roma

Interior Minister Robert Kalinak in the Roma settlement in Krompachy (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, January 17 (TASR) – The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is taking the Slovak Interior Ministry to court over what it calls planned discriminatory practices by the Slovak police, TASR learnt on Wednesday.

The ERRC doesn’t like planned measures aimed at tackling crime in Roma settlements. “The planned legislation could easily be misused to persecute already marginalised communities,” said Michal Zalesak of the ERRC.

According to the centre, the new legislative proposal is based on “anti-Roma stereotypes and inaccurate conclusions built on data gathered by the ministry last year”.

“Traces of prejudice can certainly be found in certain activities of the Slovak police aimed against the Roma. Linking the crime rate with ethnicity is absurd,” stated ERRC President Dorde Jovanovic, noting that the institution views legal proceedings as “the only way to prove that activities clearly targeted against Roma communities are illegal”.

Last week, Interior Minister Robert Kalinak (Smer-SD) and Police Corps President Tibor Gaspar presented measures that the ministry wants to adopt in order to deal with crime in Roma settlements. The measures include increasing the powers of police officers not only when dealing with crimes or misdemeanours, but also with disturbances of public order. In addition, integrated police departments with more officers should be established with responsibility for the situations in individual settlements, along with the introduction of civil patrols made up of Roma.

Government Proxy for Roma Communities Abel Ravasz (Most-Hid), his predecessor in the post Peter Pollak as well as Justice Minister Lucia Zitnanska (Most-Hid) have objected to the planned measures.