MORE THAN 2,500 people have voiced their support for Ombudswoman Jana Dubovcová in an online petition launched by the Centre for Research into Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK) in the wake of a dispute between the ombudswoman and the government, with almost one-third of the signatories coming from Bratislava.

The petition was initiated on January 8 after the government at its regular session refused to hear complaints filed by Dubovcová concerning a controversial police raid at a Roma settlement near Moldava nad Bodvou (Košice Region) last June. Prime Minister Robert Fico claimed that Dubovcová overstepped her powers by addressing the cabinet directly, failing to appeal to its subordinate bodies – the Interior Ministry and the police. The ombudswoman maintains that she has appealed both to the ministry and the Police Corps - to no avail, however.

Dubovcová came to the government session to present her disagreement with the opinion of the Interior Ministry regarding the police operation in Moldava nad Bodvou, when 63 police officers raided the local Roma settlement, purportedly seeking men for which they had arrest warrants. They found none of those men, but violence ensued and 15 other Roma were taken to the police station.

Fico said that Dubovcová did not follow the proper legal procedure, explaining she should not have turned to the government at all. Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák added that she should have addressed the regional police headquarters in Košice. He also claims that all of her accusations are based on false testimonies.

Dubovcová responded, as quoted by SITA, that with the attitude of the cabinet, her office can be downgraded to a paper tiger. She also explained that she had turned to the government as she believes that the Interior Ministry failed to comply with its legal obligation and did not inform her of the measures it has taken.

“The petition was launched as a result of the arrogance of power manifested by the government when it did not let Dubovcová speak, even though it had invited her to the session,” said CVEK researcher Jarmila Lajčáková, according to the TASR newswire. CVEK further added that the support for Dubovcová is an expression of gratitude and respect for the ombudswoman’s efforts to fight for the observation of human rights and equal access to justice for all people in Slovakia.

“We hope that this activity will help to persuade the government that it’s important to hold constructive discussions even on sensitive and probably less popular topics,” added Lajčáková. Several NGOs active in this sphere also criticised the government’s handling of the matter.

(Source: TASR, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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