Media conference on Roma rights protection in Ukraine was conducted on November 1 at 2 p.m. at press – center «Kharkiv Today» (Myronosytska Str., 8)
Unfortunately, problems such as discrimination, stereotyped attitudes and low level of Roma tolerance from the side of the population and on the part of the state agencies continue to be relevant in Ukraine. This is especially noticeable in the interaction with police agencies. At the end of last year, with the support of the European Roma Rights Center, Kharkiv Institute for Social Research conducted a study that was dedicated to this particular issue. As a result of a survey of 300 Roma from Kharkiv, Cherkasy and Transcarpathia Regions, representatives of this national minority are constantly faced with cases of unreasonable ID checks by police in public places, unlawful inspections and searches of housing or cars, collection of databases for Roma, etc.
17.3% of the Roma respondents indicated they had been at the police station at least once during the past 12 months. Among most often reasons for the arrival of Roma to the police station were photographing, being a witness and identification of a person. Every fifth Roma who got to the police station was not informed at all about his/her rights (21.1%). More than a third of respondents (36.5%) did not receive information about free legal aid. 39% of Roma said they had not been able to tell their relatives about their location.
More than a quarter of respondents (27.8%) noted that they had encountered unlawful violence from the side police officers in a given situation. It concerned both physical harm and psychological pressure and intimidation.
Svitlana Shcherban, Researcher at the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research, noted that in the in-depth interviews, police officers denied unlawful actions and excessive powers use to Roma. However, a discriminatory attitude still manifested itself in conversations with the police. Among most frequent were fears about the possible commission of crimes by Roma and stereotypes about this national minority.
According to Mykola Burlutsky, Director of the Roma organization Chachimo, this is due, above all, to the high level of intolerance against the Roma in society. It is also relayed to the behavior of the police as well. According to a human rights defender, such a discriminatory attitude is especially dangerous when violations of the rights of the Roma themselves. This clearly showed serious cases in the Vilshany, Loshchivka, Kyiv, and others like that.
Lawyer Stanislav Mironenko explained in details about the course of the case in the village of Vilshany, Kharkiv region, where in May 2017 an ethnic conflict with a local MP took place, as a result of which several Roma were wounded and one was killed. According to the lawyer, the investigation of the crime is delayed and is ineffective. In particular, there are suspects only in concerning hooliganism. There are no suspects in the murder. There are also difficulties in
Olga Zhmurko, Director of the Roma Program Initiative of the International Renaissance Foundation, noted that there is currently no effective state policy on establishing of tolerance and anti-discrimination against the Roma. The Strategy for Protection and Integration in the Ukrainian Society of Roma National Minority adopted in 2013 is not being implemented. Most often, programs for improving legal awareness of Roma, training for police officers regarding equal treatment of all citizens, provision of free legal aid and other initiatives are undertaken by NGOs. But this is not enough, because such activity should be systemic and operate throughout Ukraine.
A report on the study results could be found here.