Prosecutor General’s Office blind to police abuse in Mahilioŭ Roma raids
A working group created to investigate reports of police brutality during a major raid on Roma houses in Mahilioŭ and several other cities on May 16 found no “illegal actions or abuse of power,” Deputy Prosecutor General Aliaksei Stuk said at a press conference on June 25.
“There were certain procedural violations, though. They were eliminated,” Stuk said, but refused to elaborate on the topic.
On May 16, police searched dozens of households and arrested over a hundred Roma men in Mahilioŭ. The special operation was reportedly prompted by the death of a local traffic police officer, the case later attributed to suicide.
Some of the minority representatives were later released, while some 50 males were detained for three days. The police eventually charged them with disorderly conduct.
Given the circumstances of the arrests (most of the people were held in their homes), human rights activists say the police raid is illegal and arbitrary.
On May 21, Ales Bialiatski, chair of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", wrote to the Prosecutor General asking to investigate the arrests in Mahilioŭ.
A response that followed said that a “working group has been established to assess the actions of employees of law-enforcement bodies during the detention of Roma individuals.”
“The Prosecutor General’s Office failed to conduct a proper investigation,” Bialiatski said. “Moreover, it is sad to hear that prosecutors do not realize that the case is an example of ethnic profiling targeting the Roma minority, which in fact was the reason for my complaint. After all, this large-scale “operation” is obvious discrimination against Roma persons.”
Ales Bialiatski also noted that the Prosecutor’s Office failed to react to violations of procedural guarantees.
“Detaining people for several days without a valid reason is lawlessness, for which no one was held accountable,” says the human rights activist. “The investigation completely ignored the multiple facts of physical violence by police against the detainees.”