The United Nations has urged Ukraine to put a stop to the persecution of the country’s Roma community in a letter citing human rights experts. The letter was published on July 18.
“We unequivocally condemn these heinous acts of intimidation and violence against members of the Roma minority in Ukraine,” the letter reads, adding that even women and children have been targeted in a string of recent attacks dating back to April 2018.
The letter attributes these acts of violence to some of Ukraine’s far-right groups, including ultranationalist C14 and the controversial paramilitary organization National Druzhyna. Members of these groups have even openly boasted about destroying Roma camps on their respective social media pages.
Photo credit: Igor Burdyga/HROMADSKE
The UN has also addressed the fact that a number of these incidents remain unpunished and criticize the lack of action from the national and local police forces in particular.
According to the letter, UN human rights experts “deplore the absence of effective measures to protect members of the Roma minority against such actions by the Ukrainian authorities.”
Although some of the incidents against the Ukrainian Roma community have resulted in legal proceedings, the UN regards them as insufficient.
The same day the UN published the letter, C14 coordinator Serhiy Mazur was placed under house arrest for two months and charged with hooliganism. The UN letter specifically states that these cases should take into account issues of “racial, national or religious enmity or hostility,” and should not be “merely considered as hooliganism.”
Other cases relating to anti-Roma violence have resulted in similarly lax sentences. Following an attack on a settlement in Lviv, in which a 24-year-old Roma was killed and three more injured, four people were detained and then subsequently released on house arrest.
The letter makes it clear that Ukraine should be doing more to properly investigate the crimes against the country’s Roma minority and make sure that the victims are properly compensated.
UN human rights experts have also contacted the Ukrainian government for further information on these cases.
/By Sofia Fedeczko