Human rights defenders receive more reports on ongoing harassment of Roma
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" has received a complaint from a group of citizens representing the Roma diaspora in Minsk. According to them, they are facing unreasonable and arbitrary detentions by the law enforcement bodies.
Police officers and traffic police officers reportedly detain people without explanation, hold them in a police station for more than 3 hours, fingerprint them, photograph, take other biometric material. Such detentions occur constantly and repeatedly, with the police staff insulting Roma people, refusing to write detention reports or prohibiting to sign any documents.
One of the persons, Liubou Valoshchanka, explained that after being detained and brought to the police station, she and her husband were fingerprinted and forced to give other biometric material. Meanwhile, they had previously passed similar procedures. She also noted that a police officer said offensively, “Oh, they’ve got chavelas (“Romani girls”)!”.
“I am seriously worried about such an attitude to me on the basis of my nationality, I always carry a passport, I had a sense of fear of the police. I feel uneasy because I can at any time be unreasonably detained. We are afraid and already restrict ourselves and our children from visiting public places: schools, kindergartens, shops. On the same day they take same people several times. They take everyone, paying attention to nothing: with children, the elderly, people with disabilities. Discrimination of our nation is underway, although we also work and pay taxes, which pays for these same police officers,” says Mrs. Valoshchanka.
According to the women, representatives of the Interior explain the detentions by “orders from above” and “system of dashes” – everyone has to make a certain number of detentions of Roma people.
“People look at us as if we all were criminals. No more strength to endure! We are citizens of Belarus, just like others. Now we live here like in German prisons. But the people will no longer be silent!” says another woman Anzhalika Valoshchanka.
In accordance with the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On State Fingerprint Registration”, mandatory fingerprinting registration is applied to only certain categories of citizens. And if males should undergo this procedure as liable military service, then women cannot be subjected to forced fingerprinting, if they do not fall into any of these categories.
In addition, detentions without reasons, interrogations and forced explanations were conducted against the will of the detainees. According to the women, police officers may be entitled to demand and receive explanations, but for such explanations there exist other procedures. In such cases, there is no reason to open an administrative case and no reasons for the detention of Roma people.
The women have filed complaints against the illegal actions of police officers in the Pershamaiski district police department and the Prosecutor of Minsk, highlighting all the violations during the arrest and illegal fingerprinting. They believe that such an attitude is discriminatory and violates the constitutional rights of the Roma people.
They also argue that similar detentions occur in other cities of Belarus: Zhlobin, Babruisk, Homel.
Earlier, similar raids on the Roma citizens were carried out repeatedly in the course of police operations. As a result, dozens people were detained on unfounded suspicions of involvement in drug trafficking, thefts and other crimes. With their illegal actions and biased publications in Internet resources, law enforcement officers raise the level of Romaphobia.
Human rights activists, in turn, have repeatedly drawn the attention of authorities and the media to violations of the rights of Roma people, as well as to the inadmissibility of negative reports in the media. According to them, this can lead to xenophobia and discriminatory behavior in society, as well as the formation of extremely negative perception of the entire Roma minority in our country.