19 June 2019, Wednesday, 21:16
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Harry Pahaniaila: There Is Discrimination Of Roma Along Ethnic Lines In Belarus

HARRY PAHANIAILA

This practice was rooted among the police long before the incident with the traffic police inspector in Mahiliou.

In connection with Mahiliou traffic police lieutenant Yevgeny Patapovich's tragic death, mass arrests of the Roma (Romani citizens) took place in the cities of Belarus. Dozens of people were kept in places of restriction of freedom even after the Investigative Committee called the "abduction" of the traffic police inspector by "three gypsies in a Volga" a non-priority version. A number of the detainees testified about humiliation and torture by the police, while the head of the Roma diaspora in Belarus, Aleh Kazlouski, compared the actions of the authorities with the raids against Roma and Jews under Hitler.

Harry Pahaniaila, the chairman of the legal commission of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, has commented on the situation for the Charter97.org website:

– This situation has arisen not today, and not even yesterday. It's not the first year that we, human rights activists, have been paying attention of both the police and the prosecutor's office to the fact that the so-called "profiling" is going on against the Roma. Sometimes special decisions on conducting unjustified "operative-search measures" in relations of persons of the so-called "Romani nationality" (Roma) are taken. Moreover, this often happens in a brutal way, without any specific reason in relation to a particular person.

We have repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that the rights of those who were unjustifiably detained are not being restored, and they are not even apologized to. Many Roma are photographed, fingerprinted and registered without cause, although they have no criminal records.

The resonant case of a traffic police officer's disappearance demonstrated that nothing has changed in relation to the Roma in our kingdom. As soon as the first data appeared that allegedly Roma or Caucasian persons forced the inspector sit into the car, another wave of detentions started in the country.

Therefore, citizens who have suffered from the actions of the police in this situation have the right to file a complaint with the prosecutor's office. There is a need to ensure that these cases receive clear legal assessments are that the perpetrators are brought to disciplinary and other responsibility. Police officers should, at the very least, apologize to the detainees and explain their right to get a moral damage compensation.

All this requires another check by human rights activists.

– Is it possible to talk about discrimination of Roma in Belarus on the basis of nationality?

– Yes, of course. We have repeatedly stated this. This is discrimination on the basis of nationality in its purest form.

Moreover, when information appears in the official media that "persons of Roma nationality are prone to committing crimes", it is propaganda of such discrimination. Such generalized characteristics are unacceptable. Even if the guilt of a particular person is established, what does that have to do with his nationality? It has long been proven that crimes are committed for completely different reasons.

The rights of the Roma are regularly violated in Belarus, and the state does not want to pay attention to it. Our complaints to the prosecutor's office are often ignored: they say that everything is okay, there are no appeals from the Roma themselves.

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