Kyiv
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Insufficient action by authorities and law enforcement at local level encourages xenophobia against Roma

Kyiv, May 26, 2017.

Currently eight cases regarding xenophobia against the Roma are being considered by the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights. Last and most tragic incident took place in Vilshany, Kharkiv region, on May 16, 2017, when one Romani person was killed and three were wounded.

It was stated by Aksana Filipishyna, representative of the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights for children’s rights, non-discrimination and gender equality. “Last year in August the events in Loshchynivka village, Odesa region, opened the Pandora’s box. (In August 2016 a 9-year old girl was killed in the village, a Romani person was detained as the crime suspect; following the events the Roma community was forced out of the village – UCMC). We saw further attempts to force the Roma out, their settlements burnt down and cases of beating. There’s almost a dozen of cases demonstrating intolerance towards Roma. Death of a person is the red line that our society has already crossed. […] Most disturbing is the fact that representatives of the authorities are involved in all the cases – as they call and spread xenophobic moods against the Roma,” she said.

There are several reasons for such escalation: the state takes no action in the Roma affairs, xenophobic claims often do not result in adequate feedback on the part of law enforcement agencies. “Consistent state ethnic and national policy is lacking at all levels, protection and actual integration of the Roma national minority into the Ukrainian society is missing. Meanwhile anti-Roma statements by some representatives of local authorities are not openly condemned or punished by the state agencies,” said Mariana Magomedova, coordinator of the Roma Program Initiative of the International Renaissance Foundation. There is an opinion that the situation is not worsening. It comes as a result of the policy for increased openness of the authorities that cast light on the problem that has been there for long.

Police report they have established a group that is investigating into the Vilshany incident, three persons were arrested. Representatives of the Roma community are concerned that if those guilty are able to get away with it and are not held liable, it will create a dangerous precedent to oppress the Roma. “If the case is not finalized and those guilty are not held liable, it may serve a dangerous example for other regions showing how Roma should be treated, how to get rid of them. Even now in Vilshany the call is on to force the Roma out of the village. It is unacceptable, police have to respond accordingly,” emphasized Vadym Matiushenko, head of the “Romen” national and cultural union of Roma.

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