ERRC Letter to the Macedonian Interior Minister


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Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 20:57:54 +0200 (EET)
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Subject: ERRC Letter to the Macedonian Interior Minister

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: European Roma Rights Center <errc@errc.org>

ERRC Letter to the Macedonian Interior Minister


ERRC Press Release: Police Abuse in Macedonia
 
On September 19, 2000, the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an
international public interest law organisation which monitors the
rights of Roma and provides legal defence in cases of human rights
abuse, sent a letter of concern to Macedonian Interior Minister Dosta
Dimovska to express concern at reports of recent incidents of police
abuse of Roma in the Shuto Orizari municipality of the Macedonian
capital Skopje. The ERRC letter details a recent instance of police
abuse in a refugee camp in Shuto Orizari and notes that numerous
instances of police brutality against Roma have been reported in
Macedonia. Police brutality was a central concern of the ERRC's 1998
country report, A Pleasant Fiction: The Human Rights Situation of Roma
in Macedonia, available on the ERRC internet website in English and
Macedonian at:
http://errc.org/publications/reports/index.shtml

Since the publication of the report, many more instances of police
abuse targetting Roma have been reported and the ERRC has, on repeated
occasions, appealed to Macedonian authorities to act to reduce the
high levels of police abuse of Roma in Macedonia (see previous letters
of appeal to Macedonian authorities at:
http://errc.org/publications/reports/index.shtml ). To date, any
actions taken by the Macedonian government to combat such abuse appear
to have been ineffective.  The ERRC urges Minister Dimovska to act
swiftly in seeing to it that officers who abuse their authority are
properly disciplined, as well as to make clear to all police officers
in Macedonia that abuse will not be tolerated. The text of the ERRC
letter follows:
 
Honourable Minister Dimovska,
 
The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an international public
interest law organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and
provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse, is alarmed
about reports of recent incidents of police abuse of Roma in the Shuto
Orizari municipality of the Macedonian capital Skopje.
 
On September 10, 2000, at around 1:00 PM, Mr. Bekir Ramadani, a Romani
refugee from Urosevac, Kosovo, was reportedly beaten and detained in
questionable circumstances by Macedonian police.  According to
testimony provided by Mr. Ramadani to the ERRC on September 10, the
incident began a few minutes after the arrival of a relative of his
from Serbia, Mr. Besim Kreziri.  Mr. Ramadani stated that as he and
Mr. Kreziri were walking towards his barrack in a refugee camp located
in the Shuto Orizari municipality of Skopje, a police officer came
after them and told Mr. Kreziri that he would have to leave because he
did not have the personal documents required for legitimate presence
in the camp.  Mr. Ramadani asked the police officer what measures
would have to be taken in order for Mr. Kreziri, who was carrying only
his Yugoslav identity card, to continue his visit in the camp.  The
police officer stated that Mr. Kreziri would have to produce a
Yugoslav passport in order to be allowed to stay.  Since Mr. Kreziri
did not have his passport with him and had travelled a long distance,
Mr. Ramadani asked the police officer if there would be any way that
he could be granted permission to stay without a passport.  At this
point, the police officer reportedly began kicking and slapping Mr.
Ramadani to the point where his hearing was impaired.  After the
beating, the officer handcuffed Mr. Ramadani and took him to a police
station - effectively a barrack within the refugee camp.  Inside this
police station, he was placed in a room and left there to wait, still
in handcuffs.
 
While Mr. Ramadani was in the police station a group of around 50
Romani refugees who had witnessed the beating of Mr. Ramadani, began
to protest.  In response to the protests, a brigade of Macedonian
police entered the camp.  The protestors demanded that Mr. Ramadani be
released, at which point one officer began to insult them and threaten
them with his truncheon.  This threat was witnessed by the refugees,
the ERRC local monitor, Mr. Asmet Elezovski of the Roma Community
Centre DROM, and Mr. Nicolae Gheorghe, Senior Advisor on Roma and
Sinti Issues for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in
Europe.  Under the pressure of the protestors, the police officers
released Mr. Ramadani and told the protestors that the situation would
be dealt with when the police sergeant arrived.  When the sergeant
finally arrived, the ERRC local monitor witnessed the officer
insisting that Mr. Ramadani go with him to the police station where he
would be questioned. Mr. Ramadani later told the ERRC local monitor
that during the questioning the police sergeant threatened to expel
Mr. Ramadani from Macedonia to Kosovo.  At no point during the
incident was Mr. Ramadani offered an explanation for his detention.
 
Honourable Minister Dimovska, the ERRC has documented numerous
instances of police brutality against Roma in Macedonia, and police
brutality was a central concern of the ERRC's 1998 country report, A
Pleasant Fiction: The Human Rights Situation of Roma in Macedonia. 
Since the publication of the report many more instances of police
abuse targetting Roma have occurred and the ERRC has, on repeated
occasions, appealed to Macedonian authorities to act to reduce the
high levels of police abuse of Roma in Macedonia.  To date, any
actions taken by the Macedonian government to combat such abuse appear
to have been ineffective.  The ERRC urges your office to act swiftly
in seeing to it that officers who abuse their authority are properly
disciplined, as well as to make clear to all police officers in
Macedonia that abuse will not be tolerated.  We respectfully request
to be informed of any actions taken by your office.
 
Sincerely,
Dimitrina Petrova
Executive Director
 
Persons wishing to express similar concerns are urged to contact:
 
Minister of Internal Affairs Dosta Dimovska
St. Dimche Mirchev bb
91000 Skopje
Republic of Macedonia
Fax: (389 91) 112 468
 
*****************
 
The European Roma Rights Center is an international public interest
law organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Center, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://errc.org.
 
European Roma Rights Center
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary
 
Telephone: (36 1) 42 82 351
Fax: (36 1) 42 82 356
 
*****************
 
SUPPORT THE ERRC!
 
The European Roma Rights Center is dependent upon the generosity of
individual donors for its continued existence. If you believe the ERRC
performs a service valuable to the public, please join in enabling its
future with a contribution. Gifts of all sizes are welcome; bank
transfers are preferred. Please send your contribution to:
 
European Roma Rights Center
Budapest Bank Rt.
99P00402686
1054 Budapest
Bathory utca 1
Hungary

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