Interior Ministry sees no discrimination in articles about Roma
Homel human rights defender Marya Klimovich received a reply to her appeal to the Interior Ministry on reported instances of discrimination of Roma people. In her appeal, the activist argued that the police newspaper “Na Strazhe” (“On Guard”) specifies the nationality of criminals, in particular Roma, which leads to discrimination based on ethnicity.
The letter, signed by Kanstantsin Shalkevich, head of Information and Public Relations Department of the Ministry of the Interior, says that the articles contain information about specific crimes, while the involvement of Roma in certain types of crimes cannot be regarded as a generalized description of the Roma community in general.
“I cannot agree with Mr. Shalkevich. In particular, the journalists had no purpose to generalize, but it is the reader who generalizes. In his or her mind, such articles help form the perception of Roma as a criminal nation. Although, referring to crime statistics, Roma do not take the first place in murders and rapes. And so the resulting picture is distorted. On the other hand, conscious representatives of the Roma nation are ashamed to learn that their ethnic group is constantly remembered in such an ugly light. Perhaps the police chiefs do not want to publicly criticize their employees. But in small circles, hopefully, awareness-raising activities will be held. We will continue to monitor the newspaper, and if it continues the same line, we will ask the same question to the Commissioner for Religious and Ethnic Affairs,” says Marya Klimovich.